Peele, Brodsky, and Arnold (1991:133) cited in Dowieko (1993:11) maintain that ‘[addiction] is not an all-or-nothing thing, but a continuum from moderate excess to severe compulsion'. With this citation in mind, I will attempt to discuss both the ‘how' and ‘why' of addiction, focusing on the main models that sought to explain the process of addiction, as well as the reasons why certain individuals, unlike others, finish up victims of a severe drug dependency. Nonetheless, I will start this essay by briefly exploring the terminology and provide a definition of those concepts that by their very own nature are central to the conceptual understanding of the process of chemical dependency – chemical use, abuse and addiction. I will finish off this essay by pointing at the way drug addiction would typically act upon both the individual and society.
As a starting point, it might be important to keep in mind that even if chemical use, abuse and addiction are distinctive concepts, yet there is hardly any consensus concerning their definitions or diagnosis. Indeed, Fishbein and Pease (1996) explain how definitions of various forms of chemical use and abuse vary among cultures and how the distinction between chemical use and abuse, for instance, can be confusing and biased by subjective value judgments and personal experience.
[...] There seems hardly to be any universally-accepted definition, especially when it comes to establishing the point at which chemical use becomes drug abuse, for what would seem to be potentially definitive of chemical use by one person could be perceived as abusive by another, and vice-versa. As a next step, I will discuss some of the main models that attempt to explain the pathway it takes for an individual to pass over from a simple use, or else no use, of a substance to a full blown addiction. Discussion of Models on the Process of Chemical Dependency Brower et al. [...]
[...] Chemical Dependency, the Individual and Society Chemical dependency is a major public health problem that affects millions of people and places enormous financial and social burdens on society. It destroys families, damages the economy, victimizes communities, and places extraordinary demands on the education, criminal justice, and social service systems. Chemical dependency affects and costs the individual, the family, and the community in significant, measurable ways including loss of productivity and unemployability, impairment in physical and mental health, reduced quality of life, increased crime, increased violence, abuse and neglect of children, dependence on non-familial support systems for survival, and expenses for treatment. [...]
[...] Another important theory of addiction, known as the selective interaction/socialization model is more or less based on the fact that potential drug users do not randomly ‘fall into' social circles of users; they are attracted to certain individuals and circles sub cultural groups because their own values and activities are compatible with those of current users. They are, in a sense, socialized advance' for participation in certain groups, they choose and are chosen by certain groups because of that socialisation process, and, likewise, participation in those groups socializes them toward or away from the use of illicit drugs. [...]
[...] Models of Chemical Dependency After discussing some of the main models on the process of chemical dependency, I will now consider the potential of the main models of chemical dependency to explain why certain individuals, unlike others, proceed from little or no use of substances or involvement in an activity to an increased intake and finally to full blown addiction. The three most important theoretical models through which one can set about explaining chemical dependency are the biological, the psychological, and the socio- cultural models. [...]
[...] The psychodynamic model proved to be very successful in shedding light onto the importance of early childhood development and parental influences as possible origins of addictive behaviour, as well as recognizing that dysfunctional dynamics in an individual's family of origin often play a role in the development of chemical dependency. Also, the psychodynamic model offers penetrating insights into the personality dynamics of drug addicts. Wurmser's (1974) notion of an individual's proneness (i.e. the “addictive search”) coupled with drug or alcohol availability provides an intriguing explanation for predicting vulnerability to addiction. [...]
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