Biological Model of Addiction Essay

HideShow resource information

Outline and evaluate one biological model that suggests initiation, maintenance and relapse of addictive behaviour is caused by biology (5+5 marks)

            Initiation of addiction is prompted by the reward centre is responsible for controlling out feelings of motivation, reward and behaviours. Once an individual has administered the drug and experienced a high they will get messages from their brain to initiate the behaviour over and over again. The reward pathway has a special collection of neurons which secrete a hormone called dopamine which makes people feel happy and satisfied and also gives them a sense of pleasure. Furthermore the reward pathway ensures that the behaviour is repeated. To increase the likelihood of an individual repeating the behaviour the regions where the control over memory and behaviour are linked.  

The maintenance of the addiction is to avoid withdrawal symptoms and relies predominantly on the biochemistry of the brain. This is done by the continued release of dopamine by the neurotransmitters in the brain. This is believed to happen because individuals that have addictions especially to substances don’t have the normal amounts certain hormones being secreted, in order to fix this imbalance these individual self-medicate. This leads to an increased production of hormones like dopamine and serotonin which enables them to function normally, maintenance occurs because once the addict tries to abstain from administering the drug the body can no longer produce the required amount of hormones for the individual to function normally. Also neurochemical changes in the brain lead to desensitisation. Desensitisation occurs when chronic drug use leads to an increase in dopamine production. Desensitisation is the neural mechanism underlying tolerance. This leads to dopamine receptors becoming less sensitive therefore meaning that people need higher and more frequent doses to achieve the effect they want. This also reduces the prefrontal cortex activity. The prefrontal cortex has an executive function in making decisions and controlling our behaviour. It stops the drive to respond to immediate reinforcements if the consequences are going to be damaging for us in the long term. Psychologists believe that desensitisation reduces the prefrontal cortex activity which reduces the addict’s ability to resist cravings.

Relapse occurs because of the withdrawal symptoms the addict experiences are very painful and it requires more mental energy and will power to stop the addiction. It is much easier to just give in to the cravings. The cravings occur because the neurotransmitters are no longer being stimulated to produce excess quantities of hormones like dopamine and serotonin, the body feels that it can’t survive and function competently without the drugs so the addict starts to experience withdrawal symptoms so that the addict is prompted to start the addiction up again.

The biological model provides reliable evidence due to its scientific experiments. This shows that the conclusions based on these experiments, which show that the input of the biochemistry of the brain


Princess Natasha Daniel


what grade is this?

Maira :)


wow this is amazing. Thank you :-)



This is a brilliant essay, thank you for sharing!

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Addictive behaviour resources »