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To What Extent Is Dopamine Essay

1749 words - 7 pages

Tendencies of developing an addiction – from reward to motivation
Despite the fact that these studies give an overview of how a pleasurable effect can lead to addiction, they do not fully answer the question as to why some people are more prone to this disorder than others. To clarify this uncertainty, factors from all levels of analysis need to be examined. The studies above are fairly reductionist as they only focus on the effect of neurotransmission of dopamine in addictive behaviour and do not consider other aspects that could contribute to addiction. The diathesis-stress model provides a reasonable explanation of addiction as a result of the interaction of biological and environmental ...view middle of the document...

However, a main issue is the use of a questionnaire survey as research method; social desirability and failure of understanding the question are disadvantages that could have affected the results. The sample was also unrepresentative in terms of culture and age as the subjects ranged from grades 7 to 12 and were from an Iowan community. The extent to which this can be generalized to the whole population is thus questionable.
The theory of triadic influence, categorizing independent variables that affect behaviour into three levels of influence: intrapersonal, interpersonal and sociocultural-environmental behaviour, expands on this interaction (Flay and Petraitis, 1994, pp.19-44). This theory has namely demonstrated that age is one severe risk factor as features such as low refusal skills and peer exposure are more likely to appear in adolescents than in other age groups. Laviola et al. supports this risk factor in her suggestion that the maturational rearrangements in the brain and hormonal systems in adolescents could be a factor, but more importantly in that the typical characteristic of novelty-seeking in adolescents could explain their high vulnerability. Her findings demonstrated that late adolescence MDMA (ecstasy) human users as well as periadolescent mice were characterized with high levels of novelty-seeking compared to controls. (Laviola et al., 1999, pp. 993-1010). In addition, Cloniger (1987) indicated that there are two types of alcoholics; some drink in order to cope with stress, others to relieve boredom. Stress specifically is considered; the stressful desire to reach an addictive substance turns into reduced stress when the desire is fulfilled. This is an alternative explanation to the repeated intake due to the desire to reach euphoria. However, addicts can not be classified into these two types only. Sannibale and Hall (1988) have found that only 18% of their sample of alcoholics could be categorized as type 1 or 2. In addition, gender difference significantly varied between the two types; Cloninger's typology did not take this into account. Both theories however remain somewhat reductionist, numerous extra components need to be considered in the complexity of addiction.
Considering the area of neurology only, incentive-sensitization theories of addiction could answer part of the process from 'high' to addiction. These theories –like positive incentive theories- also confirm that a ‘high’ can lead to addiction due to brain plasticity and do, in addition consider the ‘wanting’ and ‘liking’ attributes of an addictive substance. Studies have shown that dopamine is involved in sensitization, defined as ‘The enhanced response to a stimulus, after repeated exposure to that stimulus’ (Robinson and Becker, 1986) (Kalivas and Stewart, 1991) ; namely that increased dopamine release produced by daily injections of cocaine (Kalivas and Duffy, 1990) as well as enhanced sensitization in dopamine receptors following repeated cocaine...

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