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Understanding Addiction; substance abuse have become a huge epidemic in today's society


kar2065227 1 / -  
Dec 22, 2014   #1
Please give me feedback on my essay ASAP!!! This is a research paper on addiction and the causes.

Addiction and substance abuse have become a huge epidemic in today's society. In order to effectively treat this disorder, society needs to understand the scientific aspects of addiction. Research suggests new neurological evidence behind addictive behavior. High levels of drug use change brain function and alter brain chemistry. In order to understand and treat addiction, it is important to look at all the facts. My research has shown that society is torn between the exact cause and nature of addiction, thus hindering the steps toward a solution. It is important to be educated on how the brain functions, how addictive traits are formed, and how certain predispositions play a role. My research shows that there are combinations of genetic, environmental, and physiological factors that contribute to addiction.

One of the biggest debates today is whether or not addiction should be classified as a disease or a choice. Many people believe addiction to simply be a matter of personal decision. There has been major controversy in today's society about labeling addiction as a disease and in the long run is only hindering the treatment process. "Critics say the disease model makes it too easy for addicts to keep using drugs, since by definition, they cannot control their addiction on their own" (Clemmit, 4). The problem is that the definition is not what is making it addicts continue their destructive behavior, the addictive traits associated with the drugs are. Some people believe addiction to be "A crutch word that makes it easier for humans to dismiss their personal responsibilities for choices" (Netherton, Dale. P2). This debate has led to the United States to see addiction as either a disease or a failure of free will.

Those opposed to the disease model believe addicts use it as an excuse to continue their behavior. Addicts see the disease as something they cannot control and that regardless of their own free will, they do not have the capacity to stop using. Some believe that we must encourage a view of addiction that allows people to sustain a belief in free will so that individuals will take responsibility for their own actions. In an editorial in Addiction research and theory, the author states, "Our research demonstrates that believing in free will- that is, believing that one has control over one's actions- has societal implications. Experimentally weakening free will beliefs led to cheating, stealing, aggression, and reduced helping. Bolstering free will did not change participants' behavior relative to a baseline condition, suggesting that most of the time people possess a belief in free will" (Baumeister, Vohs. P1.) So do Addicts use the deterministic view of addiction as an excuse to make themselves feel better? Do they really not possess free will when it comes to using drugs, or are there other factors involved?

New scientific research has shown that heredity has a powerful influence on compulsive drug use. Certain genes may be passed down from an alcoholic mother or an addicted father. Some genetic factors affect impulse control, making an individual more susceptible to addictive behavior. "Epidemiological studies strongly suggest that genetic factors operate at all steps of addiction, including vulnerability, initiation, continued use and propensity to become dependent" (Burmeister, Li. P1). This may help us understand why some people can experiment with drug use and not become addicted and why some are more prone to it. Significant progress has been made in identifying the genes that make a person more susceptible to addiction; however, there is still a long way to go. "There isn't just one gene that affects addiction-more than 89 have been associated with drug use, and another 900 genes are suspected to be involved with the vulnerability of developing addiction" (Inaba, Cohen. 8.37). The linkage and association of these genes will help with the development of crucial interventions in the future

Genetic research has shown that at least half of a person's susceptibility to drug addiction can be linked to genetic factors. The interaction of certain genes may lead one person to abuse drugs, while another may not. "If a person has just a few of the genes that promote addiction, he or she might have a low propensity to drug dependence; a few dozen may indicate a high propensity" (Inaba, Cohen. 2.37). The genetic influences vary from person to person and can make genetic research difficult in certain studies. Heritability can differ between certain people depending on a variety of factors, such as age, sex, education, socioeconomic status and cultural background.

Environmental influences interact with genetic predispositions and may also contribute to development of addiction. Certain environmental experiences can reinforce drug use including stress, peer pressure, emotional events, family dynamics, or abuse. "Individuals who grow up in chaotic households tend to seek activities to help cope or escape their reality, Some are under social pressure from peers or family members in which excessive drinking or drug use is considered normal" (Inaba, Cohen. 2.38). Once an individual experiences relief from outside pressures, there is a desire to continue using. "The midbrain tags drugs as a survival mechanism to alleviate stress" (McCauley, Kevin. P1) Therefore, anytime an addict starts to experience certain pressures or stress, the mid brain will instinctively go for what is known to take those feelings away.

Environmental influences mold how the brain responds to outside influences, as well as alter the brain's neurochemistry. "Interactions, particularly in home environment, actually make new nerve cell connections, memories, and alter a person's neurochemistry" (Inaba, Cohen. 2.38). An environment that is particularly stressful or hostile can leave a person vulnerable to pleasure seeking activities. Anything that takes the pain away, or helps a person cope with reality becomes reinforcement for continued use, making it hard to abstain from using drugs.

Along with genetics, and environment, there are physiological effects that lead to addiction as well. Drugs primarily affect the central nervous system and act on certain neurotransmitters. "Psychoactive drugs affect natural functions by mimicking, blocking, or otherwise disrupting the release of certain neurotransmitters" (Inaba, Cohen. 2.10), thus giving an addict the feeling of euphoria. The drugs will hijack the persons reward/control pathway and urges individuals to do it again and again. The messages from the reward/control pathway can be so strong that it may be next to impossible to stop the drug-seeking behavior. The brain and the body try to biologically adapt to the increased quantities of drugs by changing their chemical balance and the cellular composition of organs such as the liver. This results in physical or tissue dependence, in which a person's brain and body can become dependent on a drug just to maintain basic functioning.

With so many variables that play a part in addiction, we cannot use a simple explanation of personal choice. Clearly there are much more in-depth explanations behind the cause and effect of addiction. Maybe an individual made the initial choice to experiment with drugs, however the genetic, environmental, and physiological factors played a huge role in the reinforcement of drug-seeking behavior and addiction. Society, clinicians, and addicts themselves must look at the whole picture in order to effectively treat all aspects of this growing disorder.
fangrz - / 2 1  
Dec 23, 2014   #2
I wouldn't use the word "important."

Reword this (it is confusing): There has been major controversy in today's society about labeling addiction as a disease and in the long run is only hindering the treatment process.

Reword this: The problem is that the definition is not what is making it addicts continue their destructive behavior, the addictive traits associated with the drugs are.

Reword this: Experimentally weakening free will beliefs led to cheating, stealing, aggression, and reduced helping. Bolstering free will did not change participants' behavior relative to a baseline condition, suggesting that most of the time people possess a belief in free will" (Baumeister, Vohs. P1.) So do Addicts use the deterministic view of addiction as an excuse to make themselves feel better?

The sentence that starts with " New scientific research has shown that heredity has a powerful influence on compulsive drug use." should be a new paragraph.

"Pleasure seeking" should be "pleasure-seeking"
For this sentence--"The drugs will hijack the persons reward/control pathway and urges individuals to do it again and again."--"urges" should be "urge"

For the last sentence, instead of saying "disorder," maybe you should say "problem." Earlier in your essay, you explained that people don't know if addiction is a disease or a choice. By using the word "disorder," you make it sound like addiction is definitely a disease.


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