A critical analysis of the concept of addiction with reference to drug misuse

Essay by salehsalehUniversity, Bachelor's May 2005

download word file, 6 pages 5.0

In this assignment I will be critically analysing the meaning of the term addiction when used in relation to drug misuse, and assess its merits as a concept for defining drug related behaviour. The key factors will be considered as to why people use drugs on a regular basis and how these factors impact the 'validity' of the overall concept of addiction. Also, I will be looking at what related concepts, such as 'dependence', imply for our use of addiction as a term to describe regular drug use.

The term 'Addiction' is perhaps most commonly used to describe problematic drug use. Drug addiction is a very controversial topic with many diverse definitions and opinions. Barber (1995) addressing this issue says "Many attempts have been made to arrive at a universally acceptable definition of addiction but the matter remains unresolved and contentious. As a result, terms which might sound as if they refer to much the same thing take on subtle shades of meaning and can lead to spirited, even acrimonious debate among drug experts."

Popular conceptions of addiction do not stop at drugs but people can become overly attached to alcohol, gambling, chocolate, sex, computer games and even using the internet. These non-drug addictive behaviours are similar in that the person has a lack of control over their behaviour.

Rasmussen (2000) giving a fairly general definition of addiction writes:

"Addiction is a broad term that embraces both substance related (chemical) and behavioural (non-chemical) problems. Addictive disorders include (a) substance use disorders, such as intoxication, withdrawal, and flashbacks. Because nonchemical disorders such as pathological gambling, compulsive shopping, sex and love addictions, and eating disorders resemble substance- related disorders etiology, expression and treatment, it is useful to include these problems in addiction practice."

From a sociological point of view Abercrombie (1988)...