Psychological aspects of Addiction in Society Today

Addiction to mind-altering, mood-changing substances has developed into a major problem for society. There is much in the news, and nearly everyone has either known someone or participated in the use of these substances. This is a practice that has gone on for many centuries dating back to the Stone Age where the fermentation process was discovered and fruits and vegetables were turned into liquid alcohol. There was a different attitude towards these substances in the general population at that time. Certain plants were found to have qualities that could be both a boon and a curse to the body. Poppy plants were extracted to make opium which relieved pain and helped with such maladies as dysentery and sleep deprivation.

Coming into the twentieth century and on towards today, drugs and alcohol have been found to be a major detriment in certain individuals. Studies were conducted and addiction took on the face of a psychological malady. The first efforts were in the area of defining exactly what addiction is. Many theories have been formulated and the most prevalent theories are; the Moral Model, the Temperance Model, the Disease Model, the Psychological or Characterological Model, and the Social Education Model. Each has a different approach and have been used in the treatment of addiction, here are the base ideals of each model;

  1. The Moral Model postulated the idea that the addicted person has a moral deficiency that causes the abhorrent behavior associated with addiction.
  2. The Temperance Model is based on the idea that it is the drug that is the cause of the problem and that the individual has no control over their actions once the substance has been imbibed.
  3. The Disease Model traces the root back to an identifiable disease (addiction) as the cause of the problem, as well as abnormal behaviors inborn in the person.
  4. The Psychological or Characterological Model places the blame with some unidentified psychological issue or a deficiency in the character that creates the obsession and compulsion to use excessively.
  5. The Social Education Model looks into the environment the person lives in for causality. Factors such as home environment, genetics, and societal influence are seen as direct relational causes for addiction in people.

Having a working definition of thecondition is but the first step in developing the course of treatment for any individual. While some of these are oppositional in concept, history has shown that there is no certain specific, one-size-fits-all, path to relief. The treatment of addiction has grown into an industry that employs a significant number of people as counselors, therapists, nurses, and other ancillary staff.

Either way you look at it, from a disease, or behavioral point of view the treatment of this issue has to have some structure. Here are the most prevalent forms;

· Treatment programs. These programs are based on educating the addict of the effect and consequences that addiction has on their lives and the lives of their family and friends. The general activities for most treatment centers include actual classroom sessions about their addiction along with group and individual therapy sessions that emphasize the need of the person to achieve and maintain a state of abstinence and learn the strategies to prevent relapse. Treatment programs can be either completed in an inpatient environment or as outpatient sessions.

· Counseling. This form of treatment can be achieved in several differing forms; individual or family counseling with a psychologist, psychiatrist or addiction counselor. The focus for this type of session is to personalize the process so that the patient can learn to endure the temptation to continue the use of addicting substances. Behavioral therapies have the ability to let the addict foster ways of coping with cravings, suggest plans to elude dangerous substances while preventing relapse, and offer insight on how to deal with a relapse if it occurs. This form of treatment has the added value of allowing the patient to talk about stressors in their life that trigger the desire to change the way they feel. Jobs, school, family, friends are all open subjects along the path to discovering a method of living without drugs and alcohol,

· Self-help groups. One of the strongest of this type of treatment is the 12-step model discovered in the 1930’s by Bob Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith which we know today as Alcoholics Anonymous. There are a number of other Self-help groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, whose focus is for people addicted to drugs, such as cocaine, sedatives and narcotics. The message offered by these programs is that addiction is a chronic disorder of the body, mind and spirit. The meetings and activities of these groups focus on the danger of relapse and continuing maintenance of the spiritual, psychological and behavioral condition. These self-help groups are easy to find either in the phone book, newspaper or on the Internet.

Personal experience as an HIV/AIDS, suicide, and crisis counselor.drug as well as Chemical Dependency instructor

Comments 3 comments

miakouna profile image

miakouna 4 years ago

Great article. This is an important topic that you covered. Thank you for sharing.

Duchessoflilac1 profile image

Duchessoflilac1 4 years ago from Johns Island, SC

Good that someone is willing to tackle the hard stuff

Peggy Strack 4 years ago

Addiction is so real and hurtful to people. You tackle the subject with a great deal of insight. Thank you.

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