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Approaches to Explaining Substance Use

Approaches to Explaining Substance Use

The social learning model is a model that attempts to describe addiction as a behavior that is fashioned through learning as well as cognitive and socio-cultural factors (Straub, 2014). According to this model, smokers tend to smoke in various situations, such as when they are socializing with their friends when they are eating. Through conditioning, the pleasurable physiological impacts of nicotine, coupled with other rewarding aspects of social situations, turn such situations into very powerful smoking triggers. Furthermore, when an individual identifies with a certain drug, the initiation and maintenance of addiction occur. The social learning model identifies adolescence as a key stage where smoking and drinking have important social implications and public images, hence endangering individuals to addiction as they maintain such a lifestyle.

Research shows that adolescents who are helped to think about the positive social significance of abstaining from the use of alcohol have a reduced willingness level to drink when certain opportunities arise (Straub, 2014). Using preventive treatments that aim at changing attitudes about drinking, restructuring environments, and strengthening coping skills to lessen the risk of drinking is important. Institutions such as social, religion, school, and family can also protect individuals, particularly the young ones, from the social influence on the use of drugs. Based on the social control theory, the stronger the attachment of the individual to such institutions, the less probable they are to start using drugs. Given that peer groups seem stronger than the influence of religious, school, and family values, correcting student’s illusions regarding peer drinking can also lessen the probability of alcohol use.

The special problem presented by dual diagnosis is an acknowledgment of addiction as a symptom, the struggle with self-medication, as well as an increased risk of developing maladaptive behaviors or relapsing. Individuals with dual diagnoses are also more susceptible to suicide, have increased rates of medical and legal issues as well as homelessness, and have longer and more frequent hospitalizations. According to Woody (2016), such patients make use of alcohol as self-medication to lessen the intensity of tension, apathy, depressed mood, social isolation, and anxiety linked to mental disorders.


Straub, R.O. (2014). Health Psychology: A Biopsychological Approach. University of Michigan.

Woody, G. (1996). The challenge of dual diagnosis. Alcohol health and research world, 20(2), 76.


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Approaches to Explaining Substance Use

People start using substances for many reasons, not realizing that a substance use disorder can develop. In keeping with the health psychology model of health promotion and disease prevention, preventing substance use disorders from developing is the first priority. Understanding why people use substances can help in the prevention effort.

Approaches to Explaining Substance Use

Approaches to Explaining Substance Use

Explain, in detail, one of the models of addiction discussed in this week’s readings (Check pg. 325). Describe what contributes to or starts substance use, and what keeps it going according to that model. Predict preventive measures that may be effective in avoiding substance use disorders based on the principles of the model you discussed. Finally, address the special problem presented by dual diagnosis, including biological, psychological and social aspects.

Textbook-Straub, R. (2014). Health Psychology: A Biopsychosocial Approach, 4th Edition

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