|Type of paper:||Course work|
|Categories:||Mental health Substance abuse|
The word "Addiction" can be used to refer to a condition in which an individual engages in a certain behavior or use of a substance, which later compels them to repeatedly pursue the behavior regardless of its detrimental consequences (White, 2007). More often than not, the urge to pursue the behavior comes from the rewarding effect of the behavior that provides the compelling incentive for the individual to continue the behavior. Addiction can sometimes be referred to as the disorder of severe substance use. Addiction ranges from the use of substances such as alcohol, opioids, nicotine, cocaine, or behaviors such as gambling although many refer to addiction majorly to mean substance use (White, 2007). This paper will majorly discuss addiction with respect to substance abuse.
For substance-related addiction, the three most common disorders include drug abuse, drug dependence, and chemical dependence. As a disorder, drug abuse refers to the abusive use of legal drugs or, the most common, abuse of illegal drugs (White, 2007). The disorder often describes the pattern of use of a substance that leads to major distress or problems. The substances could be alcohol or medicinal drugs that end up causing problems such as such as failure to attend school.
Drug dependence, as an addictive syndrome, describes the persistence use of a substance even after related harms have already developed. For the dependence disorder, the most common sign includes increased tolerance to the drug of choice. The drug addict will be noticed increasing the amount of drug to achieve the desired effect. Elsewhere, an individual can present with withdrawal symptoms with decreased use of the drug while others would experience difficulty in decreasing the use of the drug (Smith, 2012). Other users would withdraw from social activities, increase the time spent in obtaining the substance or continue the use of the substance despite being aware of the psychological problems they experience from using the substance. Chemical dependence, on the other hand, denotes the habitual use of the chemicals and the incapacity to stop notwithstanding the problems experienced from using these chemicals (White, 2007). Usually, the most common substances and chemicals abused include alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, opiates, amphetamines, tobacco, inhalants, and anabolic steroids among others.
Symptoms of Addictive Disorders
Different individuals experience different symptoms of the addictive disorder. While other individuals may be seen getting high or drunk from substance abuse, others will be seen lying about just how much they use or drink the substance of choice. Other common symptoms of the addictive disorder include avoiding family and friends, avoiding certain activities they once used to enjoy for example by engaging in sports or spending time with non-using friends (White, 2007). Other individuals often talk a lot about using the drugs that they actually abuse while others simply believe that they need to use or drink the substance that they often abuse. Additionally, some individuals can be seen pressuring others to use their substance of choice while others will be seen to always get in trouble with law enforcement. Young abusers often get suspended or expelled from their schools for substance abuse while others miss school. Further, there are individuals who take risks such as driving under the influence of the drug or get depressed, hopeless and become suicidal.
Causes of Addictive Disorders
Multiple factors can lead to addictive disorders among different individuals, from social pressures, environmental stressors, psychiatric problems, characteristics of individual personality, and genetic vulnerability among others. However, from a neurologist's point of view, addictive syndrome occurs when the drug alters the way that an abuser's brain senses pleasure (Cozolino, The neuroscience of human relationships: Attachment and the developing social, 2014). The brain sends and receives neurotransmitters which cause pleasure, however, abused substances often alter the ability of the brain to send and receive these neurotransmitters. Consequently, the user of the substance will cease to rely on neurons to send and receive neurotransmitters, but depend on the substance for feelings of pleasure.
Aspects of Addiction
Addiction is essentially about compulsive behavior. With increased substance abuse, the individual's behavior, which is associated with the substance being abused, becomes increasingly compulsive. During the time of addiction, the individual's flexibility that is guided by a higher power becomes more eroded.
Addictive behavior often appears to involve processes that are outside the consciousness of the addict. The primitive cognitive structures often place drug-seeking behavior into motion thus making decision-making to happen without initiation of the conscious mind (Cozolino, The neuroscience of psychotherapy (3rd ed.), 2017).
Therefore, to understand addiction, it would be prudent to view self-psychology. Understanding the theory would allow psychoanalysts to understand the driving factors behind an individual's addiction and offer proper treatment advice rather than forcing addicts to quit their addiction
History of Self Psychology
The theory of self-psychology was first introduced in the early 1970s by Heinz Kohut when he published his monograph entitled The Analysis of Self. Since the introduction of psychoanalysis by Freud, self-psychology has proliferated into the most significant analytic theory (Martin, 2008). Kohut was well trained on the theories of American ego-psychology, a step that got him to establish a reputation as a conservative analyst of Freudian theory.
In the theory of self, as was established by Kohut, an effort is made to understand an individual from within their subjective experience through mediated contemplation. A couple of concepts are essential to understanding self-psychology, including the concepts of empathy, mirroring and idealizing, tri-polar self, self-object and alter ego (Palombo, 2008).
Using the concept of empathy, Kohut admits that the root of almost all psychopathology lies in the failure of parents to empathize with their children and the children's responses to these failures (Martin, 2008). According to him, the loss leaves the individual apathetic and empty of life feeling. Growing infants, according to Kohut, must experience the slow process of disillusionment mediated by the parents. The gradual process often requires the parents to be empathetically attuned to the needs of the child. Therefore, according to Kohut, helping patients, with earlier failures in the disenchantment process, requires the therapist to highlight empathy (Palombo, 2008). The empathy will allow the creation of a relationship between the patient and the analyst, which can give hope to mitigation of earlier self-psychology.
Through the concept of self-object, Kohut defined the objects as part of a self-machinery that had never been experienced as separate from the self. The objects can range from people, objects or activities that complete the self and are often necessary for normal functioning (Martin, 2008). In self-psychology, understanding a person's self-objects is fundamental, for example, particular habits of the person, choice of education or taste in life partners can fill the function of that person's self-objects. According to Kohut, what the self-object does to the person cannot be seen until the relation of the person to the self-object is broken. However, when a relationship is established with another self-object, the connection can hold quite strongly.
Kohut further acknowledges idealizing as a central aspect of narcissism (Martin, 2008). For revival to occur during psychoanalysis, there has to be a therapeutic activation of the parent image, a process referred to as idealizing transference. The idea is of establishing a mutual connection between an object of idealization and the self.
The alter ego concept comes from the desire of an individual to feel likened to another person in their early development. The idea sprung up from the basis of unbounded self-love, which dictates the mind of a child. The existence of another individual can, however, be created from the reflection of the self. The idea brings in line the experience of twinship with the psychology of the double (Palombo, 2008). Kohut explains that a relationship with such an alter ego is frequently encountered in the analysis of narcissist personalities.
Explaining the Cause of Addiction through Self-Psychology
After the introduction of the self-psychology by Kohut, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers have switched to understand addiction from the perspective of the addicts. In particular, Dr. Ed Khantzian attempted to humanize addiction. He debunked the popular notion that addiction resulted from sociopathic behavior or self-destruction and, instead, suggested that addicts suffer more intensely (Miller, 2009).
Psychiatrists have, therefore, drawn on psychoanalytic theory, by examining vulnerabilities, attachment, dependency, self-soothing capacities, emotional deregulation, and self-disturbances. By trying to understand the relationship between psychological distress and contemporary addiction, Dr. Ed Khantzian suggested that people self-medicate by using drugs because they lack self-care (Palombo, 2008).
According to Lance Dodes, a psychiatrist from Harvard University who has worked in the field of addiction for more than two decades, true addiction is essentially psychological in nature. Addiction only comes to be when there is a need to perform the addictive behavior. According to Dodes, the content of addiction results from the feeling of being trapped in a problem or a dilemma, which brings about the feeling of helplessness (Dodes, 2009). The drive of addiction, therefore, comes from feeling enraged by the feeling of being trapped. The rage at feeling helpless, therefore, becomes the irresistible force behind addiction. The act of performing the addiction behavior often gives a sense of empowerment and temporarily reverses the feeling of helplessness (Dodes, 2009). Consequently, the addict gets seduced into the fallacy of being in control of the emotional experience. Most addicts, therefore, believe that addiction is a substitute for action since the more direct response to their helplessness does not exist at the time.
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