Addictions

Addictions to tobacco, alcohol, and other substances are of special interest because they dramatize certain features of the psychology of acquired motivation. The motivational power of the addictions is obvious: Lives have been devoted to, and even lost to, activities performed to support an addiction. Established addictions no doubt represent a change in the physiology of the addicted person, probably a change in how certain neurotransmitters function. But at the same time, addictions are clearly acquired. This testifies to the power that experience may sometimes have over biological processes.

BIOLOGICAL DRIVES (when frustrated)

Self-assertive techniques (when frustrated)

Self-assertive techniques (when frustrated)

Collective techniques (when frustrated)

Collective techniques (when frustrated)

Socially Over-socilitude, approved sentamentality behavior

Self-punishment Crime, radicalism

Figure 1. Tolman's drive-conversion diagram.

Source: Figure adapted from G. A. Kimble (1961). Based on E. C. Tomlin (1942).

Aggression against interiors

Aggression against outsiders (war)

Aggression against attacking enemies (war)

Federation into larger group

The mechanism of learning an addiction appears to be a two-stage process. In the first stage, the future addict experiments with the addictive substance out of curiosity or a yielding to peer pressure, or for some other reason that soon becomes irrelevant. In the case of some drugs, like the opiates, only a few such encounters are required to leave the individual with a powerful craving after the initial euphoria produced by the drug wears off. The only ways to relieve this craving are either painful waiting for the craving to subside or taking more of the substance in question. People who become addicted choose the latter alternative, thus beginning the vicious circle: drug—euphoria—agonized craving—drug again. In abstract terms, the learning process appears to be of the operant or instrumental variety, with the relief from craving and the agony of abstinence playing a greater role than the positively reinforcing euphoric experience initiated by the drug.

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