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The Psychology of Addiction and Addictive Behaviors Essay


Explain the psychology and physiology of addiction

Psychology is a branch of science that deals with behavior and the way the mind operates. One who studies psychology is called a psychologist and aims at understanding how the mind functions and how it affects human behavior. On the other hand, the psychology of addiction relates to how the mind is affected by the usage of substances like drugs. The usage of drugs consistently leads to a disease called addiction. Addiction affects the brain in such a way that the mind assigns value to these substances taken. A sense of fulfillment is then created in the mind of taking the drug (Freeman, 2008).

Identify specific drug substances covering the following categories: stimulants, depressants, narcotics, hallucinogens, and cannabis

There are various types of drugs that human beings engage in. Stimulants are such kinds of drugs. They are mostly called psychoactive since they increase the activity of the brain as well as the way a person functions. Moreover, these drugs have the reputation of bringing on alertness and keeping a person awake for long. They bring out these effects by increasing the functions of noradrenaline in the brain. They achieve this by facilitating the release of noradrenaline in great quantity, later they distort the recapture of cells in the brain making a noradrenalin increase in someone’s brain. The result of this is the numerous effects mentioned earlier (Levinthal, 2010).

Caffeine is the most used psychoactive drug since it is mostly contained in soft drinks. Additionally, in many parts of the world, caffeine is not restricted explaining why it is the most used drug. Nicotine is the other type of stimulant that is commonly used. It is a constituent of tobacco and comes in various forms. Cigars and cigarettes are some of the forms of this stimulant. The stimulating addictive effect is the most known character of stimulants. A stimulant comes with major effects which may be positive or negative. The only positive effect of these drugs is that they help in improving someone’s mood as well as relieving anxiety. However, these drugs have also a reputation for causing heart failure and anxiety to the users (Levinthal, 2010).

Depressants work reverse to the stimulants in the sense that they reduce the function of certain parts of the body as well as the function of the brain. However, depressants, which are referred to as uppers increase the functions of the brain. The other group of depressants which reduce the functioning is referred to as downers. The most used depressant is alcoholic beverages. Barbiturates are another depressant commonly used, whose overdose leads to serious effects. The effects of the depressants are also diverse since they reduce anxiety and stress, but on the other hand, they may lower the blood pressure (Levinthal, 2010).

The other group of drugs is narcotics. Just like the stimulants, they exhibit psychoactive properties. Besides, they also portray sleeping properties. Narcotics are illegal drugs world-wide and owning them is a violation of the law. Cocaine is one of the commonly used narcotics. The effects of these drugs are that they cause someone to have a coma and being unable to feel pain (Levinthal, 2010). There also other effects like lack of concentration and slowing down one’s activity level. However, these drugs are sometimes used in the hospital to treat pain and anesthesia.

Hallucinogens are a group of psychoactive drugs but unlike the other psychoactive drugs, they induce experiences that are not ordinary. It means that these drugs bring out experiences that are beyond normal consciousness. The experiences can best be described in dreams or mediation. Hallucinogens exhibit the following properties: they turn our minds from the ordinary state as well as impaired someone’s memory. Hallucinogens were mostly used in communication with the spirit in the past as well as in ceremonies when turning to adulthood. There are various categories of hallucinogens: deliriants, dissociative, and psychedelics. Some of the effects of these drugs are so diverse, for example, deliriants make people have a conversation with people who are not there. Hallucinogens are illegal in many parts of the world and are considered as hard drugs.

Discuss the addiction potential of various abused substances, what effects they have, and withdrawal symptoms

Cannabis is a psychoactive drug that comes from the cannabis plant. Marijuana is the other name given to this drug. Cannabis is one of the earliest known drugs probably because it comes directly from plants. Cannabis appears in many forms, it can be either processed or unprocessed. Unprocessed cannabis comes from dried leaves of the female plant. Hashish is a good example of processed cannabis, which contains concentrated resins from the cannabis plant. Its color depends on its purity levels and can be smoked or chewed (Levinthal, 2010).

Cigarettes are one of the most abused substances whose addiction depends on the genes of a person. Addiction to the nicotine contained in cigarettes takes a matter of days or at maximum few weeks. Cigarettes have many effects on human health, one being a cause of cancer due to tobacco smoke. There is also the risk of someone getting a stroke as well as a heart attack. It is also possible for a person to be addicted to this substance from puffing just one cigarette characterized by a craving for cigarettes as soon as four hours are over since the last cigarette is puffed. However, these symptoms of withdrawal are just temporary and may take to a maximum of twelve months to get over them. The symptoms are usually both physical and mental. Physical includes the body responding to sweating, headache and, even tingling of the hands and the feet. Mentally there is always that desire to smoke as well as a feeling of insomnia.

Alcohol is another commonly used substance, addiction to this drug also depends on the person’s genes, and how often one takes it. For most people addiction takes a week or very few weeks. Excessive drinking of this substance causes numerous effects. To most people, their health is affected where parts of the body especially the liver and their brain get damaged with time. However, women’s health is affected more than the health of their male counterparts. There is also the risk that the people that drink more are prone to have high blood pressure than nondrinkers. It does not always happen that someone experiences withdraw symptoms of alcohol after quitting (Apthorp, 2003). Usually, those people who take alcohol regularly are the ones who experience the symptoms more. The symptoms include the following: a feeling of nervousness, anxiety, depressions, fatigue, and irritation. It is usually hard to predict the effects one will have after quitting.

Discuss how prescription drugs can be abused and lead to addiction

Prescription drugs or commonly known as ‘over-the-counter’ drugs are drugs that are allowed by registration in many countries. However, they need to be prescribed in case one wants to use them. There is always a possibility that these drugs if not prescribed can woe people to their addiction. The painkillers especially OxyContin may be addictive. It is also notable that steroids prescribed drugs are on the rise today due to many people abusing them (Rastegar, 2005).


Apthorp, S. P. (2003). Alcohol and Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Clergy and Congregations. Nebraska: I Universe.

Freeman.A. S. (2008). Clinical Psychology: Integrating Science and Practice. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

Levinthal, C. F. (2010). Drugs, Behavior, and Modern Society Boston: Pearson.

Rastegar, D. A. (2005). Addiction medicine: an evidence-based handbook. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Psychology of Addiction and Addictive Behaviors." March 19, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-psychology-of-addiction-and-addictive-behaviors/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'The Psychology of Addiction and Addictive Behaviors'. 19 March.

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