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Drug Addiction

1. Explain the physiological addiction process?
2. Which psychological theory most clearly explains addiction? (minimum 300 words)

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Interesting questions! Let's take a closer look through discussion, research and theory, which you can then draw on for your final copy. I also attached a highly informative article discussing the many different theories proposed to explain addiction.

1. Explain the physiological addiction process?

The meaning of 'addiction' is complicated and depends partly on the drug. However, typical physiological addictive drugs are alcohol, nicotine (in cigarette smoke), cocaine (including crack), heroin, amphetamines, and barbiturates. At least from this perspective, as some still argue that it is a choice to smoke or use drug.

From a medical perspective, addiction is a state of physiological dependence caused by frequent and regular use of drugs, alcohol, or other substances. It is characterized by uncontrolled psychological craving, and physiological tolerance, and symptoms of withdrawal when access is denied. Habitual use produces changes in body's physiological chemistry and treatment must be geared to a gradual reduction in dosage. (1) The physiological effects of dependence differ somewhat depending on the drug.

Most would agree that there are three stages to the physiological addiction process.

· In the first stage the dose of the drug has to be continually increased in order to get the same effect. This is called physiological tolerance. This is a psychological process where the body now needs more of the drug to get the same effect.
· The second stage is when the person is physiologically dependent on the drug and feels depressed or ill if they do not take it. This is a physiological process where the body now needs the drug to function normally. In physiology, tolerance occurs when an organism builds up a resistance to the effects of a substance after repeated exposure. This can occur with environmental substances such as salt or pesticides. It is also commonly encountered in pharmacology (see drug tolerance), when a subject's reaction to a drug (such as a painkiller or intoxicant) decreases so that larger doses are required to achieve the same effect. (2)

· In the third stage, the person has a compulsion to seek out the drug and this drug-seeking becomes a dominant part of their lives. (1) This process is less understood, but it is the physiological drive to get more of drug for survival, just like a person seeks food when one is hungry or water when one is thirsty. The drug is now necessary to survival because the body needs it to function or else it goes into a state of withdrawal. However, there are probably a psychological factors at work as well (see discussion below)

Physical Dependence

However, dependence on a drug can be very different from one drug to another. The most dangerously addictive drugs result in a physical and physiological process of addiction. Cocaine and heroin are examples of this kind of drug. A cocaine addict who does not get a dose of the drug becomes agitated, confused, fatigued, emotionally depressed, and acutely anxious; experiences physical effects, such as irregular ...

Solution Summary

Explains the physiological addiction process, and it also explores which psychological theory most clearly explains addiction. Supplemented with an article on the meaning of addiction based on theoretical orientation.