Addiction is a very complicated and multifaceted disease – one that affects the mind, body, and spirit, and one that evolves from a combination of genetic, biological, cultural, and psychological roots. While we have already covered the cultural aspect of addiction, discovering that in some cases entire communities are more prone to substance dependency based on past collective traumatic experiences, we will now focus on individual psychological influences.
The Psychology of Addiction and Recovery
People become dependent on chemical substances for a variety of differing reasons – in most cases, a combination of numerous susceptibilities put a particular individual at extremely high risk. From a psychological standpoint, people may be more prone to addiction because of underlying mental illness, developmental immaturities, or personality disorders. However, even if psychology played no significant role in the development of the addiction, it will be necessary to employ psychological tools in order to initiate and maintain recovery. Recovery from addiction requires a shift in thinking – a willingness and desire to make a major change. It is essential that those dedicated to making major alterations in their lives commit to learning new thought patterns and entirely embracing new behaviors.
Several Parts to a Psychological Understanding of Addiction
There are several parts to a thorough psychological understanding of addiction and recovery. First of all, there are the principles behind the learning theory of addiction, which examines in detail how people learn unhealthy behaviors. The learning theory is also extremely important in regards to addiction recovery – seeing as it considers numerous ways in which such detrimental behaviors can be unlearned. Next, cognitive theory is extremely pertinent in exploring how thoughts, expectations and beliefs can contribute to the ultimate formation of a substance dependency. As far as recovery goes, cognitive theory is important in modifying and completely changing these dysfunctional and injurious thought patterns and theories. Finally, developmental theory is crucial in understanding addiction as a result of complete cessation in developmental growth. Essentially, arrested development can be attributed to addiction, thus, as a method of recovery, accelerated growth and development in the form of psychotherapy has been proven exceedingly effective.
When approaching addiction and addiction recovery, viewing the disease from a psychological standpoint is of utmost importance in addressing underlying causes and potential treatment options. However, psychology is only one factor, and culture, spirituality, and biology are equally as important. Stay tuned for a further exploration of all aspects of the BPSS (bio-psycho-social-spiritual) model of addiction.