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Describe How Psychologists define and Explain substance abuse?

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Describe How Psychologists define and Explain substance abuse? In order for psychologists to endeavour to define substance abuse, 'Substance' itself must be defined an in the context of psychology a substance is defined as anything an individual may ingest that alters mood, cognition or behaviour. Therefore there is clearly a long list of substances including chocolate (known for changes in level of neurochemical Serotonin) or Coffee (Stimulant). Hence the term substance is more commonly referred to nicotine, alcohol, stimulants (i.e. cocaine and Ecstacy) and depressants such as Heroin and Ecstacy. There is distinction between Substance use and abuse. An individual who can enjoy an alcoholic drink, for example, but in a context where there is no dependency on the substance, such a scenario is regarded with social acceptance. Complexities lie in stating at what point an individual changes from using to abusing a substance. Substance abuse is therefore most commonly associated with addiction. Sarafino states an addiction to a substance usually consists of two elements: - Physical and psychological. Physical dependency refers to the body having adjusted to the substance and including it for 'regular' functioning of body tissue. This then induces two effects, the first being tolerance where the body adapts and requires larger dose of substance to achieve similar effect. ...read more.


The work By Lucas and Lloyd on 11-14 year olds is not generalisable as the sample population were between 11 and 14 years of age and so frame of mind will be very different. This assumption of peer pressure rests largely on self reports of smokers who may be reluctant to concede that their use was motivated by other perhaps abnormal sources and so produce more socially acceptable ones, e.g. Peer pressure. This induction of possible demand characteristics ultimately makes the research unreliable. However upon considering a Means - End analysis, this piece of research has proven to be a useful insight as to why children take up smoking and allows psychologists to develop a more specific way of combating the issue. Ethologists argue with the social learning theory, as it appears that it ignores innate built in biases in learning due to evolution making it more deterministic in defining and explaining substance abuse. The physiological approach in explaining substance abuse is reductionism, explaining substance abuse through solely the actions of neurones or genetics, this may result in ignoring other suitable levels of explanation and the interaction of causal factors. The bio psychosocial theories often over simplify the huge complexity of physical systems and their interaction with environmental factors. ...read more.


This may produce a fear within the audience and so make them less likely to take up smoking for fear of suffering the unfortunate consequences as discussed by our presenter. The most effective medium I feel is one to one communication as the reality of the situation produces far more impact on the individual and a more personal relationship can be assumed by the physical closeness achieved. The message should be absent of technicalities but simple, short clear and precise for according to the Yale Model the audience are far more likely to remember if information conveyed is short but with impact. Also again according to the Yale model the effects of persuasive communication tend to wear off over time, however the negative effects of smoking are apparently better remembered when audience participate therefore concluding with a group discussion may provide to be a very useful exercise. However we must take into account this issue of Social control, and hence although we are trying to prevent the islanders from taking up smoking, one should explain why people take up the habit and the positive reinforcement they achieve from doing so, but simultaneously be able to enhance the negativities associated with the activity. The people should be able to make the decision for themselves without social manipulation from the source from which they are learning. ...read more.

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