Is Dopamine Just A Pleasure Chemical?
Neurological explanations of pleasure have focused on the mesolimbic pathway. This is a series of connected neurons in the brain which enable us to feel pleasure. Substances such as nicotine are supposed to be addictive because they raise the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in this pathway, making feelings of pleasure more intense. Some people are supposed to be more easily addicted to behaviours such as gambling because of abnormalities in the mesolimbic pathway and in the dopamine system. However, this account of dopamine has been challenged by more recent research. These two articles are good starting points.
Use these as a basis for doing some more searching in order to answer the question of whether dopamine is just a pleasure chemical. Ask yourself what implications your answers might have for our understanding and treatment of addiction.
How Does Online Gaming Teach People How To Gamble?
The cognitive approach to explaining addiction to gambling focuses on how we think. One of the reasons why there is concern about the proliferation of online gaming is that it teaches people how to gamble. Even though no money changes hands, some online games teach people about taking risks and accumulating rewards. There are clear links between the ways in which gaming and gambling websites work. One of the leading researchers in this area is Mark Griffiths at Nottingham Trent University. You can read more about his research at these two links.
You can listen to an interview with him here.
If the link does not work, please click here for the download.
Use the tabs for gambling and video games to find out more about Mark Griffiths’ work and other research in this area. The links on this blog are not exhaustive: use a search engine to see what else you can find on the link between video games and gambling.
Ask yourself how clear the link is and what the implications are for preventing addiction to gambling.
Can The Learning Approach, Or Any Other Approach, Offer A Sufficient Explanation Of Addiction To Smoking Or Gambling?
In the history of Psychology, different approaches to explaining problems have been dominant at different times. Each has claimed a monopoly of wisdom. The Learning Approach had its period of dominance in the middle of the twentieth century and clearly still had some validity. Increasingly in Psychology, we recognise that we cannot use one approach or set of ideas to explain behaviour. We bring together a number of approaches. The questions we might ask here are what the limitations of the Learning Approach are and how we might connect different approaches to create a valid and balanced picture of addiction. Use what you have learnt in this topic already. Use the Addictive Behaviour category at the bottom of the page. Use the comments button to post your point of view.
Is There An Addictive Personality? What Implications Does This Have For The Treatment Of Addiction?
The idea of an addictive personality has almost become part of our culture. Think of the way in which the lives of celebrities are reported: Russell Brand, Amy Winehouse, Paul Gascoigne. It is however an idea which psychologists think is controversial. Here are some links which discuss this idea.
A particularly interesting piece of research in this area comes from Karen Ersche at Cambridge University. You can read about her research here:
You can also watch a news report about her work here.
Use these links and anything else you can find on personality and addiction to decide whether there is such a thing as an addictive personality. Ask yourself what your answer to this question tells you about how we should treat and indeed view addictive behaviour.
Interventions For Addiction – What Works? What Are The Issues In Judging The Effectiveness Of An Intervention?
Treating addiction has the potential to bring huge social benefits. The range of interventions is now considerable but there is controversy about what works. Part of this controversy is about the evidence that these interventions are effective, part of it is about the appropriateness of these interventions. You will have covered core information about interventions and their effectiveness in class from your resources booklet. Here is some extension material to get you reading, listening, watching and thinking.
You have already seen how Varenicline and Bupropion have been used as drug treatments for addiction to smoking. You have also seen evidence about their effectiveness. This evidence is interesting because it looks at what happens when the two drug treatments are combined.
Naltrexone has been used to treat gambling addiction. You can read about it in these three sources.
You can watch a piece of video about it here.
You can see some evidence about its effectiveness here.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing
There are general issues about the effectiveness of CBT which can be applied to its use as an intervention for addiction. Look back to the posts about depression on this blog from earlier in the year to remind yourself what those issues are. Here are two recent articles about CBT being used specifically in the context of addiction.
Use these to consider further how effective CBT is in treating addiction and what the issues with its use might be.
The interventions described here are based on some elements of CBT and MI.
Finally, we will have started this section by looking at the Hello Sunday Morning website. Hello Sunday Morning uses some of the ideas of CBT and MI but, as with some of the other examples we have looked at in relation to depression, does not use a clinical setting to get its message across but instead uses the internet.
Public Health Interventions
Here is a story from the BMA website about its campaign to have plain tobacco packaging in the UK.
You will see a reference to a similar piece of legislation in Australia at the bottom of the article. You can find out more about the Australian experience here.
Use a search engine to find out what the latest news is about the effectiveness of this legislation is in Australia. This has just appeared on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26865693.
We will have looked at the public health intervention based on screening via the resources booklet in the lesson. Here’s the link to the article.
This might give you some ideas about the issues in judging the effectiveness of an intervention.
So in your view and based on the evidence here, what works? What issues emerge in judging the effectiveness of an intervention? Post a comment or contribute to the discussion in class.