• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Biological Explanations of Addiction

Extracts from this document...


The biological model of addiction's basic premise is that addiction: is an illness; that it is irreversible; that you are either addicted or not (there are no slightly addicted individuals) and that treatment must be medical. There are many models of biological addiction mainly because current psychological research suggests that different areas of the brain are involved in different addictions (quashing the idea of an addictive personality per say). In this essay two biochemical theories will be discussed, plus the genetic model. The latter theory should not be seen as distinct from the biochemical theories as biologists would propose that any biochemical abnormalities that may predispose an individual to addiction are probably inherited. Thus studies looking at concordance rates of addictions in families, twins and adopted children would support all three of the models being discussed. One of the most popular theories of addiction is to do with the neurotransmitter Dopamine. Dopamine is involved with our pleasure/reward system. Anything we do of our volition that is pleasurable increases Dopamine. ...read more.


However like all correlational studies this kind of research cannot imply cause. The concordance could be caused by environmental factors or social learning. Additional support for the biochemical theories comes from MRI and PET scans, animal studies using agonists and antagonists and invasive brain techniques on animals, such as neuro toxins where Dopamine receptors are removed. Initiation-The above three theories would explain why people would find it easy to become addicted to drugs, as they are genetically pre-programmed to have less control of their behaviour and Dopamine has a more pronounced effect on their brain chemistry. Maintenance and Relapse: Continued drug use has an adverse effect on the brain's chemistry. It is thought that Dopamine receptors may not produce normal amounts of Dopamine after drug use; so the user has what is known as a 'come down' or withdrawal. Now not only do they have to get used to living without the high levels of Dopamine the drugs gave them but when they stop they may feel worse then before. ...read more.


Relapse may therefore occur because the user may not be able to cope with months of depression. This can be even worse for users who start as teen agers as the brain is thought to be permantly damaged. It may takes years for the brain to regenerate Dopamine pathways in other arrears of the Mesolimbic system. There are countless instances of people who live in exactly the same environment(two siblings) but addiction is only present in some cases. Bio explanations help to account for inherent vulnerabilities and susceptibilities i.e. at the initiation stage, some people are predisposed towards addictive behaviour and also provide a person as to why some people may be more resistant to addiction treatment and more prone to relapse. A deeper problem with neurochemical explanations is the neglect of the social contexts of the behaviours. The pleasures and escape associated with taking a drug are highly varied and depend on the person, dose, social situation they are in and the wider social context of the society they live in. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Physiological Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)


This essay includes quite a lot of information but it lacks good organisation and the writing seems hurried. Start with a good introduction to the subject of addiction with a definition or two. Then the main content needs to be planned better explaining what is meant by the biological model. The writer could then go on to look at the different biological theories citing various studies. The essay then should draw all the information together and weigh up the pros and cons in a final conclusion.

Score 3*

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 24/09/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Physiological Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Outline and Evaluate 2 Biological Explanations of OCD

    3 star(s)

    In a study conducted by Schwartz (1996) PET scans indicate that OCD patient's exhibit increased glucose metabolism in the OFC caudate nuclei loop. When compared with a control group, it has been found that people with OCD burn energy more rapidly in this network. This increased metabolism is correlated with the severity of OCD.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Outline and evaluate psychological explanations of OCD

    3 star(s)

    Similarly, a weakness of the behavioural theory is that there are problems with the evidence. For example, the participants used in Tracy?s study are OCD-like; they haven?t been diagnosed with OCD but have more obsessions and/or compulsions than ?normal? people.

  1. Stress can be explained as the stimulus in the environment that triggers a stress ...

    Long-term, minor sources of stress have not been considered (hassle at work). Stress in the Workplace comes from 5 Key Areas 1. Relationships at work 2. Work Pressure 3. The Physical Environment - (very noisy, overcrowded etc) 4. Stresses linked to our role - (worrying about job security/prospects for promotion)

  2. Biological Explanations of Aggression

    This means that it attempts to learn about human physiology (genes) from experimentation on mice. For example, humans are more psychologically and physiologically complex (probably) than mice, so we may have other reasons for aggression. This is a problem because the research cannot be generalised to humans.

  1. To What Extent can psychological research provide useful forms of stress management techniques?

    He found that both methods were effective, however the Stress Inoculation Training had the hidden benefit of greatly reducing the non-treated phobia, whereas desensitisation did not. This is because methods associated with the Stress Inoculation Training for example self instruction can easily be generalised to other stressful situations with the

  2. Marked Essay - Discuss biological explanations of schizophrenia.

    // Also the dopamine distribution in Parkinson?s disease can help support the dopamine hypothesis for schizophrenia. In a patient with Parkinson?s, dopamine activity is considerably lower and is increased with the patient taking a drug called L-dopa.

  1. Discuss Biological Explanations of Anorexia Nervosa

    The findings showed concordance rates of 55% in MZ twins and 7% in DZ twins. This demonstrated a dramatic increase in the chances of getting anorexia in twins with a higher percentage of shared genes. Yet, there are a number of problems with such research.

  2. Describe & discuss how each psychological perspective explains smoking using empirical evidence to support ...

    Instead our behaviour is determined by the unconscious mind and childhood experiences. Freud believed our behaviour is also motivated by s****l and aggressive drives. The drives create a psychic energy that will build up (like steam in an engine) and create tension and anxiety, if it cannot be released in some form.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work