Lesson 3: Psychological Determinants of Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders

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 In Lesson 2, we began a series of readings intended to increase your knowledge of the etiology (causes) of substance use disorders. We learned that roughly 10% of all people who experiment with drugs consequently have a substance use disorder. We also learned that substance use disorders are diseases of the brain with a multi-factorial etiology (i.e., they are caused by an interplay of genetic, psychological, and social factors). Lesson 2 focused mainly on the evidence pertaining to neurobiological and genetic factors. This lesson considers evidence that supports the theories that psychological factors also contribute. Lesson 4 will focus on the contributing social and environmental factors.

Psychological literature deals with the mind and emotions. Although the psychological models explaining substance use focus on individual phenomenon, they do not necessarily exclude or minimize social factors in the development of substance use disorders. Psychological theories include cognitive-behavioural, learning, psychodynamic, and personality theories, among others. In addition, since we know that the incidence of co-existing psychological, mental, or psychiatric problems with substance use is high, this lesson considers concurrent disorders. In this lesson, we will examine some of the concepts, myths, and evidence for the utility of psychological theory in understanding the etiology of substance use.

Topics

Lesson 3 addresses the following topics:

  • Overview of dominant psychological theories
  • Personality theories
  • Concurrent psychological and substance use disorders

Learning Outcomes

After you complete this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Assess the predominant psychological theories of substance use disorders.
  • Evaluate the evidence of personality traits in the etiology of substance use disorders.
  • Analyze the role of “impulsivity” in the etiology of substance use.
  • Assess the evidence for or against the prevalent belief of an “addictive personality.”
  • Describe the prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders in Canada.
  • Examine two adolescent experiences of concurrent mental health and substance use disorders.

Resources

DiClemente, C. (2006). Natural change and the troublesome use of substances: A life-course perspective. In W. Miller & K. Carroll (Eds.), Rethinking substance abuse: What the science shows, and what we should do about it (pp. 81–96). New York, NY: Guildford Press.

Hesselbrock, V., & Hesselbrock, M. (2006). Developmental perspectives on the risk for developing substance abuse problems. In W. Miller & K. Carroll (Eds.), Rethinking substance abuse: What the science shows, and what we should do about it (pp. 97–114). New York, NY: Guildford Press.

Mueser, K., Drake, R., Turner, W., & McGovern, M. (2006). Comorbid substance use disorders and psychiatric disorders. In W. Miller & K. Carroll (Eds.), Rethinking substance abuse: What the science shows, and what we should do about it (pp. 115–133). New York, NY: Guildford Press.

Miller, W. (2006). Motivational factors in addictive behaviours. In W. Miller & K. Carroll (Eds.), Rethinking substance abuse: What the science shows, and what we should do about it (pp. 134–152). New York, NY: Guildford Press.

Willenbring, M. L. (n. d.). An Interview with Mark L. Willenbring, M.D. (Director of Treatment and Recovery Research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [NIAAA]). Retrieved from http://www.hbo.com/addiction/thefilm/supplemental/623_mark_willenbring.html

[info]Note: Be sure to click “Go to HBO.com.”[/info]

Available Through TRU library

Gullo, M., Loxton, N., & Dawe, S. (2014). Impulsivity: Four ways five factors are not basic to addiction. Addictive Behaviours, 39(11), 1547–1556.

Hwang, J., Choi, J., Gwak A., Jung, D., Choi, S., Lee, J., Lee, J-Y., Jung, H., & Kim, D. (2014). Shared psychological characteristics that are linked to aggression between patients with Internet addiction and those with alcohol dependence. Annals of General Psychiatry, 13(1), 2–13.

Malmberg, M., Kleinjan, M., Overbeek, G., Vermulst, A., Lamers, J., & Engel, R. (2013). Are there reciprocal relationships between substance use risk personality profiles and alcohol or tobacco use in early adolescence? Addictive Behaviours, 38(12), 2851–2859.

Mushquash, C., Stewart, S., Mushquash, A., Comeau, M., & McGrath, P. (2014). Personality traits and drinking motives predict alcohol misuse among Canadian Aboriginal youth. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 12(3), 270–282.

Activity Checklist

Following is a checklist of the learning activities you will be completing in Lesson 3. You may find it useful for planning your work.

✔ Activity

☐ Activity 1: Overview of psychological theories

☐ Activity 2: The addictive personality—Fact or myth?

☐ Activity 3: Co-morbidity with psychiatric disorders in etiology of substance use disorders