Biological, psychological & cognitive explanations of addiction (general)

  • Created by: Marie
  • Created on: 19-06-11 21:16

Smoking= substance related disorder

Gambling= impulse control disorder

Biological explanations for addiction:

a person becomes PHYSIOLOGICALLY DEPENDENT upon a substance/ behaviour to function normally

Initiation for addiction (including both smoking and gambling) is due to an underlying physiological abnormality- predisposes an individual to engage in addictive behaviour.

Overstreet et al: found that he could breed a certain genetic strain of rats with a higher preference for alcohol than other rats. However, one can't necessarily generalise.

Maintenance of addiction, for the biological approach mainly involves biochemicals. 2 main systems are linked to the maintenance of addiction: The dopaminergenic system and the endogenous opioid system. Supporting this, research has suggested nicotine & alcohol increases dopamine levels as effective drugs for treating these addiction involve interacting with dopamine levels.

Relapse into an addiction is associated with withdrawal symptoms.

To conclude: more research is needed to explain "casual" addicts i.e. those who can smoke or gamble occasionally and not become addicted. The biological model can be seen as flawed since it relies heavily on animal studies. Biological factors leave scope for free will. A more holistic approach is needed and may even help provide better understanding of addiction for more effective treatments in the future!

Learning/ behavioural model of addiction:

Can be explained through classical and operant conditioning and SLT (Social learning theory).

Classical conditioning is learning through associations. Addictive behaviours are generally rewarding (at least in the short-term sense) and addictive behaviours eventually become associated with environmental stimuli as triggers for addiction.

White and Hiroi: found that rats preferred locations where they had previously been given injections of amphetamines. This suggests rats have learnt to associate certain places with rewards through classical conditioning. However, there may have been other contributing factors e.g. different light conditions nearer the location as its likely to have been near the edge of a cage.

Meyer et al: found that the mere sight of a hypothermic needle was enough to create a positive feeling in addict, suggesting they had learnt through conditioning to associate the needle with rewards. This study is more generalisable and reliable that White and Hiroi's study as the subjects are human.

In operant conditioning, addictive behaviour is associated with reward.

Maintenance: Positive reinforcement: gaining something positive e.g social…




This was really helpful thank you so much!! :D