Substance Abuse

I agree most with the sociocultural, cognitive-behavioral, and biological perspectives on substance abuse. I agree with these views in consideration to the causation of the substance dependency problems my wife and I have experienced. Considering the sociocultural perspective, my wife grew up with stressful socioeconomic conditions and in a family where abundant drug use was acceptable, for example, her father would fall asleep and almost plant his face in his cereal from taking too much pain medication; my wife also explained that there were times when their family would have to take a “number 2” in a five gallon bucket because her parents would not pay the water or electric bills.

The cognitive-behavioral model’s proposal that drug abuse and dependency are instrumentally conditioned by the rewards of reducing tension and providing a “euphoric” experience that increase the likelihood that users will seek it out again is a valid theory of causation. When my wife and I became dependent on our ADD medication Adderall, as time passed we felt as though we needed it to make us happy and eventually required more and more to obtain the desired effect. With the expectation that the rewards of the Adderall would help us make things better, stressful life experiences began motivating us to use the substance as an emotional solution.

Finally, the biological view provides valid physiological causations for substance abuse and dependency. Studies on adoptees with biological parents exhibiting alcoholism have supported that these adopted children show higher rates of alcohol abuse than adopted children whose biological parents were not alcoholics. Also, this perspective’s explanation of a drugs effect on the brains production of certain neurotransmitters is logical. Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are the main chemical messengers targeted in the brain’s reward center by the use of drugs; these drugs disrupt the brains natural production of these chemicals and after quitting the substance the withdrawal symptoms occur due to the lack in the brain’s ability to produce the neurotransmitters efficiently on its own.

The treatment methods for each of these models may have little success alone, but when combined they become more effective. Biological treatments consist of detoxification and antagonist drugs; one detoxification approach has clients withdraw gradually from the substance, taking smaller and smaller doses until they are off the drug completely.  A second detoxification strategy is to give clients other drugs that reduce the symptoms of withdrawal, such as antianxiety medication. To continue resisting the urge to use drugs once rehabilitated, antagonist drugs block or change the effects of the addictive drug so as to make it undesirable.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy instructs people with substance abuse and dependency on how to become aware of the patient’s substance-related behaviors in an effort to manage the substance’s use by exposing situational risks; behavioral self-control training (BSCT) consists of writing down the times, locations, emotions, bodily changes, and other circumstances of the substance’s use; then the clinician teaches coping strategies in light of such situations. Relapse-prevention training initially uses the same tasks as behavioral self-control training with the addition of being taught how to plan a substances use ahead of time and under what conditions its use is appropriate or inappropriate.

Self-help and residential treatment programs are sociocultural therapies that come largely in the form of individual testimonials and many credit them with turning their lives around. Another approach, culture- and gender-sensitive treatment programs try to be sensitive to the special sociocultural pressures and problems faced by drug abusers who are poor, homeless, or members of minority groups. Therapists who are sensitive to their clients’ life challenges can do more to address the stresses that often lead to relapse. Community prevention programs argue for total abstinence from drugs, while others teach responsible use. Some seek to interrupt drug use, while others try to delay the age at which people first experiment with drugs. Programs may also differ in whether they offer drug education, teach alternatives to drug use, try to change the psychological state of the potential user, or seek to change relationships with peers. The biological, cognitive-behavioral, and sociocultural treatment methods are more effective when used in conjunction with each other so as to treat many psychological and physiological aspects of one’s life that includes substance abuse and dependency.

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