Models of Addiction

The addicted person can be a composite of patterns of behavior, predisposition, and social environment. Generally, he is preoccupied with the substance or behavior of choice and will continue to practice the addiction in increasing amounts of time and material. Cessation results in withdrawal symptoms and discomforts both physically and psychologically. In spite of attempts to cut back or cease the activity, the addict will continue to his behavior to his own detriment and destruction. There are many factors that need to be considered when addressing causation, allowing the models of addiction to fall into three basic categories; medical, social, and psychological. Medical Models

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This model rests on the assumption that disease states are a result of a biological dysfunction, possibly one on the cellular or even molecular level (Doweiko, 2012). The disease or dispositional concept allows the addict to bear no responsibility for the addiction (Jenkins, 2014). Because of underlying physical abnormalities, the addict is not able to control the use of the substance or his behavior. This is the primary way of viewing addictions in the United States, according to Doweiko (2012). The cause here is considered biological or hereditary. A problem here is the potential for denial of personal responsibility. Genetic factors consider vulnerability, predisposition, and how genes come together to increase risk for addiction. Patterns over time and generations can be helpful in research and in understanding possible solutions. This idea is limited in that research is narrowly focused on biological and genetic factors versus other factors.

 Social Models
This model views peer pressure, social policies, and availability as major contributing influences surrounding addictions. It is mainly concerned with conformance and deviance, what helps, and what is a risk. Unhealthy relationships, dysfunctional families, and environment play a major part in the cause of addiction in this type of model (Jenkins, 2014). Inadequate coping mechanisms and vicarious learning contribute to the problem. The focus is on family, peers, personal relationships, and learned behaviors. The moral volitional or willful sin theory relies on social sanctions to remedy addiction and sees it as a weakness of character. The greatest hope here is that changing peers, places, and things offers recuperation.

On a spiritual level, the degrading effects of sin illuminate the need for redemption (Jenkins, 2014). This compulsion is seen as a form of idol worship, as it places the obsession before God. It hinders spiritual growth and alters the image of God within the believer.

Social models are limited in that relationships are difficult to measure (Jenkins, 2014). Rather than how the addiction develops, the emphasis is on recovery. Genetic predisposition and other areas are not taken into account or ignored and the individual’s ability to resist is not contemplated. Psychological Models

With the rise of psychoanalysis came the psychological models of addiction. The addict is considered as being immature developmentally and as having fundamental traits that contribute to the problem. There is the belief that the dilemma is reinforced both socially and MODELS OF ADDICTION 4 environmentally creating a learned response through classical and operant conditioning (Jenkins, 2014). It is thought that the addict uses defense mechanisms to remain in denial about his predicament and will use cognitive justifications for otherwise unacceptable behavior (Doweiko, 2012). Conclusion

From the various models used to understand and explain addiction, it is apparent that there is an overlapping or interconnection among the theories. This would support an integrated approach to identifying the cause and effects of this problem. When all factors are considered, the puzzle is much easier to put together. Treatment can then be comprised of multiple options and resources making recovery more attainable.

Doweiko, H. 2012. Concepts of chemical dependency , 8th ed. Belmont, CA:
Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning
Jenkins, D. 2014. Presentation: Models of addiction. Retrieved from

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