A preexisting physical abnormality

by taratuta

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A preexisting physical abnormality
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Therefore, over the past 300 years there have been shifts in attitudes towards
addictions and addictive behaviours that are reflected by the changing theoretical perspectives. Although the development of social learning theory highlighted some of the
problems with the 2nd disease concept of addictions, both these perspectives still remain,
and will now be examined in greater detail.
The three perspectives in this category represent (1) pre-existing physical abnormalities;
(2) pre-existing psychological abnormalities; and (3) acquired dependency theory. All
of these have a similar model of addiction in that they:
I regard addictions as discrete entities (you are either an addict or not an addict);
I regard an addiction as an illness;
I focus on the individual as the problem;
I regard the addiction as irreversible;
I emphasize treatment;
I emphasize treatment through total abstinence.
A pre-existing physical abnormality
There are a number of perspectives which suggest that an addiction is the result of a
pre-existing physical abnormality. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous argue that some
individuals may have an allergy to alcohol and therefore become addicted once exposed
to the substance. From this perspective comes the belief ‘one drink – a drunk’, ‘once a
drunk always a drunk’ and stories of abstaining alcoholics relapsing after drinking
sherry in a sherry trifle. In terms of smoking, this perspective would suggest that certain
individuals are more sensitive to the effects of nicotine.
Nutritional/endocrinological theories suggest that some individuals may metabolize
alcohol differently to others, that they become drunk quicker and may not experience
any of the early symptoms of drunkenness. Similarly, this perspective would suggest that
some individuals may process nicotine differently to others.
Genetic theories suggest that there may be a genetic predisposition to becoming an
alcoholic or a smoker. To examine the influences of genetics, researchers have examined
either identical twins reared apart or the relationship between adoptees and their biological parents. These methodologies tease apart the separate effects of environment and
genetics. In an early study on genetics and smoking, Sheilds (1962) reported that out
of 42 twins reared apart only 9 were discordant (showed different smoking behaviour).
He reported that 18 pairs were both non-smokers and 15 pairs were both smokers. This
is a much higher rate of concordance than predicted by chance. Evidence for a genetic
factor in smoking has also been reported by Eysenck (1990) and in an Australian study
examining the role of genetics in both the uptake of smoking (initiation) and committed
smoking (maintenance) (Hannah et al. 1985). Research into the role of genetics in
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