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A Critical Analysis Of The Concept Of Addiction With Reference To Drug Misuse

1705 words - 7 pages

In this assignment I will be critically analysing the meaning of the term addiction when used in relation to drug misuse, and assess its merits as a concept for defining drug related behaviour. The key factors will be considered as to why people use drugs on a regular basis and how these factors impact the 'validity' of the overall concept of addiction. Also, I will be looking at what related concepts, such as 'dependence', imply for our use of addiction as a term to describe regular drug use.The term 'Addiction' is perhaps most commonly used to describe problematic drug use. Drug addiction is a very controversial topic with many diverse definitions and opinions. Barber (1995) addressing ...view middle of the document...

.the devotion to or enslavement by a substance, typically a drug, which is regarded as physically or socially harmful."This definition indicates towards the traditional perception of this subject where the substance is only seen as being addictive and the one doing the enslaving. But this definition does not seek to clarify the procedure of how the drug actually exerts this influence but it basically reproduces a physiological understanding of addiction. It implies that it is the biological/chemical properties of a drug which is the key factor in determining why people develop problems with regular use. (lecture notes)Keith Hellawell, the former head of the UK's Anti Drugs Coordination Unit speaking in 1999 also brought up the 'enslavement' concept in the following quote:"It is difficult to exaggerate the damage that drugs bring to our communities. Our young people are entrapped or enticed into drug misuse, and some become reliant and addicted to these substances."So, here again usage of terms such as 'entrapped' and 'being addicted' give the proposed implications that it is the drugs that are addictive and which effect people's behaviour and responses.It will have to accepted that the physiological action of a drug is fundamental to our experience of it but still it would not be correct to define the drug experience solely in relation to the chemical effect it has upon our bodies. There are many other factors which greatly determine people's behaviour and responses. For example, the drug users' beliefs about the effect of drugs are just as important a part of the experience as the actual taking of the drug itself.Gossop (2000 p15) explaining about the effects of drugs says:"The way in which a drug affects the person who has taken it depends as much upon the psychological characteristics of the individual (his personality, how he believes the drugs will affect him, his emotional state, etc.) as upon the chemical properties of the drug itself."Furthermore, he caries on to say that 'the biochemistry of a drug is only one of a wide range of factors that interact to produce the final effects' and 'these depend to a certain extent upon the basic personality structure of the person who took it'.Illustrating the immense effect of the psychological factor, Gossop (2000 p20) says:"Because psychological factors play such a large part in determining how people respond to drugs, it is possible for them to react as if they had taken a drug even when no such drug had been used."Similarly, as well as psychological factors, the social environment also has a major influence on the drug user. Zinberg (1984) supports this view and he believes that the drug, in combination with the (mind) set and setting are the crucial determinants of the way drug use is experienced. The importance of the social context of substance use has been proven by research studies which followed up American soldiers on their return home from the Vietnam War. Gossop (2000 Chapter2) mentions...

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