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What Is Addiction

What Is Addiction

What Is Addiction

Take-Home Essay for Exam No. 3: Psychopharmacology/Drugs & Behavior


Answer the following question in a well-constructed, comprehensive, and TYPED essay. You may use your

textbook, Internet, and library resources in formulating your answer. One resource that will be critical for

answering portions of this essay is a video from the Bill Moyers series on addiction called “Close to Home”.

The segment is Episode 1: Portrait of Addiction. You will need to watch the video to answer this essay



I have placed a copy of the video on the BlackBoard Site for the class. You can also buy a digital copy from

Amazon for $2.99, if you prefer:


***** Due Date: The day of the exam by 11:59PM (No exceptions)! Grades are due! Answers can be

submitted as a paper copy or via e-mail. *****


Answer the question “What is Addiction?” in a well-constructed, comprehensive, and TYPED essay. You

may use your textbook, Internet, and library resources in formulating your answer, and must use specific

examples from the video to answer part b. The question can be answered in 3 double-spaced typewritten pages

or so and is worth 20 points.


Specifically, please address ALL of the following issues.


a. Consider typical definitions of addiction and the common characteristics of each (I have appended a series of

definitions, courtesy of Google). What are the critical dimensions used to define addiction? What is the role of

psychological and physical dependence in defining addiction?


b. Consider the consequences of addiction within the framework provided by the Addiction Severity Index

(ASI), a commonly used measure of addiction. The ASI considers addiction not just as extensive drug use, but

also in terms of consequences along five critical dimensions:


• Medical Issues

• Legal Issues

• Employment Issues

• Social/Family Issues

• Psychosocial Functioning Issues

Provide specific examples for each of these issues from the video Portrait of Addiction from the Bill Moyers

series on addiction called “Close to Home”. Use these profiles to illustrate the complexity of the disease.


c. Consider characteristics of the drug itself. What do you mean by the question, “What is the most addictive

drug”? Is it the likelihood of producing physical or psychological dependence? Is it the likelihood (or rapidity)

of producing compulsive use? Is the ratio of social (recreational) users versus addicts a critical one? What

measure(s) do you think best identifies the “most addictive drug”? In short, what makes a drug addictive?


d. In your opinion, what is the most addictive drug? Justify your answer.



Definitions of Addiction (courtesy of Google, November 26, 2007)


• A chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use and by neurochemical and molecular changes in the brain.


• A physiological and psychological compulsion for a habit-forming substance. In extreme cases, an addiction may become an overwhelming obsession.


• Uncontrollable craving, seeking, and use of a substance such as a drug or alcohol.


• Addiction is a primary, chronic, neurobiologic disease, with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. It is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving.


• A term referring to compulsive drug use, psychological dependence, and continuing use despite harm. Addiction is frequently and incorrectly equated with physical dependence and withdrawal. Physical dependence, not addiction, is an expected result of opioid use.


• a state of being dependent on a certain substance, which is harmful or dangerous for the physical or mental health of the person, for his social well-being and economical functioning of the subject


• a disease, influenced by genetic, psychological, social, and environmental factors, that changes the normal way the nervous system works. …;jsessionid=VPIH4WB5P5HUGCQPCCEDC0YKB…


• Psychological or emotional dependence on the effects of a drug.


• A behavioral syndrome characterized by the repeated, compulsive seeking or use of a substance despite adverse social, psychological, and/or physical consequences, and a need for an increased amount of the substance, as time goes on, to achieve the same effect. …


• drug-seeking behaviour that occurs after the drug is no longer needed. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a problem if drugs are given for pain.


• A compulsive physiological need for a drug.


• A compulsive physiological craving for a habit-forming substance, addiction is a chronic and progressive disease usually characterized by physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. The term “dependence” is often used synonymously to avoid the pejorative connotations of addiction.

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