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Substance Use

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a) Describe what psychologists have discovered about substance use and abuse. Psychologists have discovered that a wide range of biological, environmental and social factors play role in substance use and abuse. Moolchan et al reviewed research which looked at tobacco smoking in teenagers. Moolchan did not collect raw data but compiled pre existing data and found that social settings played an important factor in determining whether someone would use a substance, in this case smoking. Moolchans study found strong links between teenagers smoking and at least one of their parents smoking with at 75% of teenage smokers having at least one parent that smoked, he also found that teenagers who smoked reported more symptons of depression that those that did not. Consequently Moolchan found that there is no single factor responsible for substance use and abuse, rather the causes are wide ranging. Griffiths discovered that there are a number of similar components which make up addictive behaviours such as substance abuse. Griffiths discovered identified six components: Salience is the first component this si the stage where the behaviour, such as drug taking is very important to the user with them thinking about taking drugs even when they are not. The second part is Euphoria which is described as the rush or buzz that is a result of the addictive behaviour. Tolerance is the third component and is described as the period in which increasing quantities are needed in order gain the same rush or buzz experienced in euphoria. ...read more.


Action is the most obvious stage, a person is said to be in the action stage if they have stopped their behaviour between one and six months. The final stage is known as maintainence and here a person works to try to avoid succombng to a relapse remaining substance free. b) Evaluate what psychologists have discovered about substance use and abuse. In discovering about substance use and abuse one issue encountered are the inevitable ethical issues that occur. In Mestel and Concar's study for example, sensitive data was collected. Sharing this sensitive data wit hthe researchers may have caused participants unnecessary anxiety or embarrassment if for example the urine test showed that they had used cocaine. This inevitably leads to ethical issues due to the unpleasant emotions participants may have been subjected to. Similarly in Robinson et al's study, participants may have experienced unpleasant emotions such as embarrassment and ill ease as a result of the personal nature of the questions asked. From the two studies we can see that ethics is often a factor when exploring the issue of substance use and abuse however substance abuse is, by definition, against social expectations and consequently is always likely to incur ethical dilemmas when researchers attempt to discover substance use and abuse. Another difficulty incurred when attempting to explore substance use and abuse is social desirability. Social desirability is the term given to the situation in which people give answers that are contrary or different to their beliefs because their alternative answer is more socially acceptable. ...read more.


Many people resolve to give up smoking each new year. With middle aged women specifically in mind suggest one psychological technique which would be useful to help them in their attempts to stop smoking. Give reasons for your answer. In attempting to stop smoking one technique which may be useful is the use of self help groups. Self help groups are support circles where each member is also attempting to quit smoking. As Moolchan discovered in his study, women who smoke are likely to be socially skilled and confident and so may find a group therapy useful where they can support and gain support from other women in the group who are in a socially similar position to themselves. Group therapy may also be effective in helping a middle aged woman quit smoking as she may make friends with people in the group and thus turn to them for support as she would turn to a friend outside of the group. The clear difference however would be that the person in the group would be going through the same experience as the middle aged woman and so would be able to identify with her. Those in the support group may also acknowledge an element of competition each one wanting to continue to stop smoking so they remain in the group. For this variety of reasons a support group is likely to be the most effective strategy in supporting a middle aged woman who is giving up smoking. ...read more.

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