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Alcoholism Nature Or Nurture? Essay

2780 words - 11 pages

The nature nurture debate is one of the most enduring in the field of psychology. Nature is innate behaviour that has been evolved over many generations, under the influence of natural selection. The behaviour is adapted to our way of life and is shown by all members of the human species. Nurture is learned behaviour that is learned by the individual throughout his/her life. There is often great variation amongst people as it depends on the environment and experiences of the individual. In previous decades the two opposing views were that behaviour was determined by either nature or nurture. Nowadays the essence of the debate is: what is the ratio of genetic to environmental influences in understanding the source and expression of various biological and behavioural characteristics? The relevance of this debate to psychology in the study of alcohol addiction is that many researchers feel that alcoholism is hereditary and that if parents are alcoholic, their children may be more likely to develop into alcoholics than others. However, others feel that genetics may play a small part in the development of alcoholism, yet the environment plays a larger part in helping to shape the individual's alcoholic behaviour. It is now a more commonly held belief that neither nature nor nurture is solely responsible for our behaviour; rather it is an interaction of the two.Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and sometimes fatal disorder with both genetic and environmental roots. It is a compulsion that drives an individual to continue to behave in a way that is harmful to self and loved ones, despite an intense desire to halt that behaviour. It is a disease of 'more' - an active addict needs an increasing amount of substance to get high and is unable to cease usage without painful withdrawal symptoms. This is true whether the addictive substance is a drug - such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, or heroin - or a behaviour, such as gambling or sexual promiscuity.Addiction is not confined to any economic, social, racial, religious, occupational, or age group. Addicts are not visually identifiable; it is impossible to pick out an alcoholic, drug addict, or the people who enable addictive behaviour (co-dependents) from a gallery of photographs. There is no known cure for addiction. Relapse is a part of the disease and may be triggered in a variety of environmental and emotional ways. Life-long monitoring is necessary, yet with appropriate identification, treatment, and self-care, an addict can live a productive substance-free life.It is known that addiction runs in families, but how is it transmitted? Are we born with an 'addiction gene' or with an 'addictive personality', or are we taught addictive behaviour by our family and society? This classic question of nature vs. nurture is answered with a qualified "both."Alcoholism can be considered to derive from genetic causes. Family studies have repeatedly confirmed that the risk of alcoholism is higher among...

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