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Critically discuss the theoretical explanations put forward to explain alcohol dependence and discuss the rationale for prevention programmes for hazardous drinkers.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Addictions. Critically discuss the theoretical explanations put forward to explain alcohol dependence and discuss the rationale for prevention programmes for hazardous drinkers. This assignment aims to evaluate current theoretical explanations that are relevant to the field of addiction and to explore the reasons and intentions behind various prevention programmes for hazardous drinkers. There are many different types of theoretical explanations and models relating to addiction, and most research has focussed on alcohol dependency. (Ogden, 2004) However it is important to define what is meant by the term "addiction"; Goodman (2005) puts forward the following as a definition for addiction: A process whereby a behaviour, that can function both to produce pleasure and to provide escape from internal discomfort, is employed in a pattern characterized by recurrent failure to control the behaviour and continuation of the behaviour despite significant negative consequences. (Goodman, 2005, online) Although the term "addiction" is still widely used current theorists and scholars are tending to use the term "dependence" in modern research and studies. People can become dependant not only on external substances that are ingested but also to risky behaviours such as gambling, extreme sports etc. In this respect anything that induces a pleasurable physiological change has the potential to lead to dependence or addiction. Brain cells have a central core covered by a sheath, at one end of the cell are roots at the other end "fronds". A charge is passed through the fronds to the fronds of another brain cell and neurotransmitters are released, these neurotransmitters are responsible for feelings of euphoria and heightened pleasure. Some substances mimic neurotransmitters or may cause receptors to cut out; the use of some substances (such as alcohol or opiates)

Middle

This has raised the argument that one gene may be responsible for multiple addictive behaviour. (Sparknotes, 2005) Another aspect of the biological approach to addiction is "Exposure Theory" "The exposure model is based on the assumption that the introduction of a substance into the body on a regular basis will inevitably lead to addiction" (Sparknotes, 2005. online). Explanations for this are that some substances, when introduced to the body, cause a change to the body's natural endorphin producing capabilities. Endorphins are naturally occurring painkilling substances that bring about pleasurable feelings, the body can become reliant on the substance to release these endorphins either to avoid the withdrawal sensation or because the body has cut down on natural production. The bio-medical model of disease seeks to overcome the problem of addiction through the application of scientific principles: The patient becomes a problem to be solved, and the solution to that problem lies in adopting a scientific, mechanistic approach that precludes any consideration of social, psychological or behavioural influences. (Crossley, 2000, p.18) The "Environmental Approach" to dependency looks at the social and cultural context of addiction. Society accepts some drugs and not others i.e. in the UK cigarettes and alcohol are legally available (dependent on age) whereas crack cocaine and heroin are not socially acceptable. Other cultures have different socially acceptable substances, for instance Khat is used in parts of North Africa as commonly as western cultures use tea and coffee. However Khat can have a damaging effect on individuals and society by causing poor health, lethargy, poverty, unemployment etc. It is not unusual for society to have its own acceptable drugs; however what is considered an acceptable substance can vary from culture to culture.

Conclusion

(Ogden, 2004, p.23.) John et al (2002) cited evidence of brief opportunistic interventions as being effective in the prevention of alcohol misuse. Young men attending accident and emergency units to have stitches removed from facial injuries were given ten to twenty minutes of brief intervention. This intervention consisted of making the individual aware of what consisted of a unit of alcohol and educational information about risks associated with over the limit alcohol consumption. After three months and twelve months this group was re-visited and contrasted with a similar group who had not had a brief intervention. It was found that the intervention group was drinking significantly less than the control group. This assignment has aimed to analyse current theories and methodology in the field of addiction and also take a brief look at intervention strategies and preventative measures that can be used with people who have a dependency on a substance or action. There is no one method of analysing and treating a dependency that is the most effective method, however it is important to remember that addictive behaviour differs with each individual. The American Government expect research and treatment into alcohol dependency to have as its main goal total abstinence, therefore treatment normally starts with a period of de-toxification. However, in the UK research and treatment have recently focussed on controlled drinking rather than complete abstinence and treatment is often used to intervene before total dependency occurs. Intervention programmes for people with a dependency can take many different forms. These can range from medical interventions such as narcotic antagonists which block the desire for substances to cognitive behavioural approaches which seek to adjust a person's behaviour by analysing their thought processes however, treatments that engage the individual seem to have more effective outcomes than directional treatment measures.

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