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Critical Evaluation of the Positive and Negative Reinforcement Views of Addiction - Term Paper Example

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The author examines the positive reinforcement model and the negative reinforcement model of addiction. The author states that Though the theories for the causes of addictive behaviors and their treatment are numerous, various types of therapy can help a person who has an addictive behavior…
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Critical Evaluation of the Positive and Negative Reinforcement Views of Addiction
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Download file to see previous pages At one time it was believed that animals could not be made addicted to drugs, but that view is now rejected because technical developments have shown that animals learn new behaviors that cause injection of drugs into their bodies.
The most popular contemporary view as to why humans self-administer potentially fatal drugs is that these chemicals activate the reinforcement system in the brain. This system is normally activated by natural reinforcers such as food, water, sex etc. Reinforcers are thought to increase the effect of dopamine at receptors in the mesolimbic system, which originates in the ventral tegmental area and terminates in the nucleus accumbens. Crack cocaine is thought to cause a massive and rapid activation of dopamine receptors in this system. Crack users report that the effects are much more intense than those produced by powerful reinforcers such as ejaculation or orgasm. (Salmon)
Negative Reinforcement takes place in the case where after repetition to certain drugs, withdrawal symptoms appear if the drug is discontinued. Withdrawal symptoms are compensatory reactions that oppose the primary effects of the drug. Therefore they serve as the opposite of the effects of the drug. Let us take an example of heroin:
Withdrawal effects are unpleasant and reduction in these effects would, therefore, constitute negative reinforcement. ...
Withdrawal effects are unpleasant and reduction in these effects would, therefore, constitute negative reinforcement. (Negative reinforcement is the reinforcement of behavior that terminates an aversive stimulus) Negative reinforcement could explain why addicts continue to take the drug. However some addicts endure withdrawal symptoms (go 'cold-turkey') in order to reduce their tolerance so that they can recommence drug intake at a lower dose, which costs less Concentrating on the role of physical withdrawal effects at the expense of other psychological factors that lead to the failure to recognize the addictive properties of cocaine. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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