All addiction notes (models, risk factors, media, TPB, prevention, public health)

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The biological approach suggests that Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to 'pleasure' and also heavily linked to addictive behaviour. Suggesting that the more dopamine a person has the more likely they are to become addicted to a behaviour. However, they also suggest that some are born with certain genetics that predispose individuals in developing addictive behaviours. I.e. those with a lack of dopamine, are likely to form addictions, as their brains are massively under-stimulated and so crave stimulation much more than a person with average amounts of dopamine. Addictive behaviours then settle this craving, as they tend to increase stimulation and as a result increase dopamine activity in the brain. Therefore, explaining why people with low levels of dopamine will form an addiction – as they may resort to external behaviours such as smoking, as their main source of dopamine production. Jang et al (2006) – supported this biological assumption as he found an association between genetics and Antisocial Personality Traits. (Antisocial personality traits likely to form addiction) He also found specifically an association between Antisocial Personality Traits and Alcohol Addiction. Therefore indirectly supporting the association between low levels of dopamine and those with addiction, as those with antisocial personality traits often have lower than average levels of dopamine, and these are the people Jang found likely to form addiction.


An addiction (smoking specifically) is maintained, according the biological approach, as the nicotine from cigarettes enters the dopamine reward pathway therefore every time the person smokes/gambles etc. They are rewarded with a good feeling, which is removed when they don’t smoke. Therefore, are positively reinforced to continue smoking in order to have that sense of pleasure and reward again. Essentially, then the person actively seeks the pleasure sensation that smoking/gambling gives them repetitively. This is supported by the research of Olds and Milner, who found caged mice will continue to pull a lever that rewards certain pleasure areas in the brain as each time the mice pulled the lever electrical stimulations would travel to the reward pathway through electrodes attached to their heads, this was repeated until the mice essentially died from too much stimulation.


The biological approach suggests that a person may relapse, back into addictive smoking behaviours as the nicotine, from the cigarettes replaces a chemical known as acetylcholine which is responsible for producing dopamine. As nicotine replaces this production, by removing the nicotine, dopamine activity levels are consequently extremely low and the body is under stimulated. This causes the body to punish itself until it is exposed to nicotine again this is shown through withdrawal symptoms. The individual then, is negatively reinforced to relapse in order to remove the withdrawal symptoms and feel ‘normal’ again. This is an addiction, as the person can no longer function normally without the external stimulants.



The cognitive approach suggests addictions are formed based on faulty cognitions, for example the Dunning-Kruger effect, this is a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled persons suffer


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