October 25, 2010
There are many different types of addictions that fall into the categories of chemical dependency or physiological and psychological dependence. Dependencies such as physiological and psychological consequences most typically accompany substance abuse. Alcohol is one of the most widely used substances in America today and is perhaps the most popular widespread form of substance abuse. However, there are several other substances that are rapidly becoming more socially accepted and therefore becoming a more prominent issue. Addiction
According to Merriam-Webster, addiction is defined as, "a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal” (Merriam-Webster, 2010). Studies report that over 25 million people are affected by some type of addiction in the United States alone (Seasons, 2010). An individual creates an addictive relationship with something because the substance or desire produces a longing effect. Dr John Marsden states that, "people take drugs, for instance, because of their physical effects. They have a marked effect on the body and mind. No one sets out to become addicted. Crucially, substances and certain behaviors change the way we feel. If they make us feel better, relax us, make us feel powerful, excite us, let us escape and so on, we tend to go back to them" (Addiction Today, 2010, p. 15). A person might try something one time and immediately be hooked. Psychology of Addiction
For most individuals, substance abuse begins as a pleasurable high or a way to escape reality or feel a sense of control. Unfortunately, this turns on the user and results in pathological consequences, often life-damaging. According to Pamela Merten, the individual becomes addicted to the experience, which often leads to impulsivity: individuals “lacking in impulse control tend to act in accordance with their mood of the moment, tend not to plan for the future, are depressed and suicidal/self-destructive, suffer chronic anxiety, and tend toward irritability” (Merten, 2010, p. 6). She also explains that these individuals often do not have effective coping skills and take on an external locus of control. They also tend to have avoidant personalities and do not perceive themselves as empowered to change their behavior. Physiology of Addiction
Perhaps most prominent in drug reaction is stimulation of one’s vitals, such as breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and contraction of heart musculature, which are all controlled by the medulla oblongata. This structure also controls sleep cycling, behavioral alerting, coughing, swallowing, sneezing, vomiting, and attention and arousal (Merten, 2010). Opiates depress these centers severely, disabling the medulla’s ability to filter external stimuli (Merten, 2010). The midbrain holds the centers which control auditory and visual reflex, in which psychedelic drugs create visual or auditory hallucinations. The cerebellum coordinates muscle movement, in which many substances cause one to lose balance when it is depressed. The hypothalamus controls arterial blood pressure, heart rate, chemical balance, body weight, hunger, movements, as well as sexual behavior. This is thought to be the prime location of action of several drugs, often having profound effects on emotion and behavior (Merten, 2010). The limbic system feels perhaps the greatest impact from the abuse of drugs. This is the center that regulates emotion, including anger, fear, sorrow, and pleasure. Behavior is greatly affected by the state of the limbic system. “Many tranquilizing drugs, especially Librium and Valium, depress the limbic system at doses far below the dose that depresses other brain functions. Rather than behavior being depressed, such drugs result in a tranquilizing and calming effect...
References: Feldman, R. S. (2010) Psychology and your life. New York: McGraw Hill.
Merriam-Webster (2010). Addiction. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/addiction
Merten, P.J. (2010). The Physiology and Psychology of Addiction and Recovery. Retrieved from http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/grammadoc-473422-2-the-physiology-and-psychology-of-addiction/
Seasons (2010). Drug Addiction. Seasons Recovery Centers. Retrieved from http://www.rehabinfo.net/drug-addiction/
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