The Psychological Factors Of Substance Use And Abuse

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Substance use is something that has become very common in America, and it’s use is affecting many people in various ways. Substance use is defined as the use of drugs or alcohol, and is abused when it becomes a daily intoxication, inability to reduce consumption, and if it impairs social functioning (dictionary, 2016). While using alcohol or drugs may not be considered substance abuse, it can sometimes lead to it if the user is not careful in monitoring his or herself. My paper will be covering both the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs, and then give examples or explain the situation. The psychological factors of substance use and abuse are not always well known, and could alter a person’s decision to begin partaking in such activities. …show more content…
This system, associated with emotions and drive, is located below the cerebral hemispheres and holds a very valuable part of the brain. The hippocampus has the important role of processing explicit memories for storage. Losing this part of the brain is being depleted of the ability to form new memories, which significantly affects the lifestyle of a person in a negative way. When a person consumes a heavy amount of alcohol, the hippocampus can reduce in volume and result in tissue loss (Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research). This discovery could explain memory impairment and cognitive defects that seem common in alcoholics, and because substance abuse affects the tissue there may not be a reversible cure to this occurrence. Most scientists believe that the loss of tissue or volume in the hippocampus can make learning more difficult (Beck, Melinda). Edith Sullivan, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University, says in a more recent article ,”As we get older, we lose al little gray-matter volume and white-matter integrity, but in alcoholics, those areas break down more quickly. It looks like accelerated aging.” Substance abuse can greatly affect the brain, and damage a person’s memory as well as learning …show more content…
Each person goes through a process of learning that consuming a certain amount of substance will bring rewards, whether that be through drinking or drugs. Association can be there downfall though, if they begin to attach a certain stimulus to the substance. For example, someone who often finds themselves surrounded by a stressful environment, whether it be family life or a full day of work issues, may chose to turn to a substance in order to become numb from their emotions. Soon they associate bad feelings with the substance that creates a sort of peace and anticipate returning back to the calming state. This is an example of associative learning, which can take two different forms: classical conditioning and operant conditioning. In the case of substance abuse, operant conditioning fits best. The stressful feelings are the response (or behavior) and the substance is the consequence, resulting in a strengthened behavior. The feelings that they experience through the substance is their strengthener, which explains why those struggling with substance abuse keep returning to the thing that makes them feel good, even if only for a certain period of

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