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Biological explanation of addiction

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Clare Schulze

on 12 February 2016

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Transcript of Biological explanation of addiction

What is included in this unit?

The Biological Explanations (Model)
The Cognitive Explanation (Model)
The Learning Explanations (Model)
Lesson Outcomes
Aspire
1. To use examples of specific genes studied in order to explain addictive behaviour.
2. To begin to link these factors/studies to initiation, maintenance and relapse.
Challange
1. To be able to outline the main biological explanations of addiction.
2. To be able to answer AO1 style questions about this explanation.

Whats the question?
Initiation:
This refers to the process where individuals start to become addicted

Maintenance:
This is the process whereby people continue to behave addictively even in the face of adverse consequences

Relapse:
This is the process whereby individuals who have managed to give up their addictive habits start to show signs and symptoms of the behaviour again.
Genetics
Overview of the Biological Model
Sees addiction as an illness
The individual does not have control over this
Someone is either an addict or not

Genetic Factors
* Ideally be able to outline the impact of at least one gene on the likelihood of someone becoming addicted.
= DRD2 Gene!
The DRD2 gene codes for D2 dopamine receptors
Within the gene there is an A1 variant
Those with the A1 variant have significantly fewer dopamine receptors
What might this mean in practice?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is important for communication in many
parts of the brain, including the reward system.
The Biological model argues that people have a predisposed biological vulnerability to addiction
(its in the genes!)
Research shows addictive drugs stimulate the reward circuit in the brain.
E.G. Nicotine triggers the release of dopamine and effectively tells the brain to ‘do it again’.
What does Chronic exposure to drugs do?





Reduction in the activity of positive reward circuits in the brain (down regulation).
Characterised by withdrawal symptoms.
The user no longer takes the drugs to gain a pleasurable experience, but instead takes them to avoid an unpleasurable state.

As a result of down regulation the drug levels required to trigger the brain reward system increases.
Key Studies - Anthony Handout!
* Schachter (1977)
* Blum et al (1991)
* Comings et al (1996)
* Noble (1991)

* Caine et al (2007)
Exam Question A - Outline the biological model as an explanation of initiation and maintenance of addiction. (5 marks)

Exam Question B - Outline the biological model as an explanation of addiction. (5 marks)
Homework
Be revision ready for PSYA3 PS4

The user now takes them to avoid an unpleasurable state.
Down Regulation - Reduction in the activity of positive reward circuits in the brain
Withdrawal symptoms.
Schachter (1977) found that smokers who smoked low-nicotine cigarettes smoked 25% more cigarettes than those who smoked high-nicotine content cigarettes.
The Challenges!
Overall AO2 & AO3 evaluation points for Biological
• Reductionist-reduces complex addictions to too simple a level.
• Lacks free-will- says people are bound to become addicted.
• Individual differences: explains why some people develop addictions and others don’t in the same bad environments (those that do have a genetic pre-disposition).
• Strong research support to suggest runs in families (but is that just due to genetics?)
• Lots of research done on animals- cannot entirely generalise to humans.
• Culture - Addictions seem to be more of a western problem. Why?
• Most research focuses on drugs and therefore not as much is known about causes of gambling.
Ignores environmental and situational factors
Research support for genetic influence on smoking behaviour ( Thorgeirsoon et al)
Research limitation of the biological approach to explaining problem gambling (Breen & Zimmerman 2001)
Use this for initiation
The role of genetics
Gambling
Smoking
* Research support that pathological gambling
runs in families
* Could be both genetic as well as environmental
* Shah et al (2005) found evidence of genetic transmission of gambling in men
* Black et al (2006) - first degree relatives of pathological gamblers were more likely to suffer from pathological gambling than were more distant relatives, thus demonstrating a strong genetic link

* Vink et al - reported nicotine dependance was influenced primarily by genetic factors (75%)
* suggests that although the initiation of smoking may be influenced more by environmental factors, regular tobacco use is linked more strongly to individual differences in nicotine metabolism

Maintenance & initiation
Why is Anthony addicted to.......
Now add AO2 points to your A3 sheet
Repeat the process for the other addiction. BUT try and be clever!
Describe how Anthony initates, maintains and potentially relaspe one addition according to the Biological model
Full transcript