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Influences on Drug Use

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Influences on Drug Use

There are many reasons people seek out the use of drugs. Environment plays a part in what drugs we consume and our attitudes towards those substances. Drug abuse comes into play when addictive behaviors and irresponsible substance consumption combine.

Influences on drug use are many. Typically, drug users are after a specific feeling or result. Some people use drugs to escape daily pressures, and others to enhance their performance, fit in with peers, or reach a heightened spiritual state.

  • What are different types of drug influence?
  • What are different theories on the impact of peers in drug use?
  • What are protective factors?

Influence on Drug Use: Examples

Several influences lead people to drug use. Some psychoactive drugs are socially acceptable, like caffeine. Most people rely on coffee or caffeinated drinks to help them wake up and start their day, and some over-consume these beverages to meet the demands of their daily schedules. However, some drugs are not accepted in society and can have a more detrimental impact on someone's wellbeing. Lots of drugs lead to drug abuse behaviors and addiction and cause people to lose loved ones, jobs, and stability in their lives.

Influences on Drug use, coffee, StudySmarterCoffee, pixaby.com

While some substance addictions like caffeine or nicotine can be broken through over-the-counter methods or 'determination', most drug addictions require various treatments to break. Treatments often include rehabilitation stays, long-term therapy and sobriety groups, lifestyle changes, and sometimes even medical interventions and medications.

Biological Influences on Drug Use

There are many biological influences on drug use and misuse. The purpose of psychoactive drugs is to produce a psychoactive effect on the brain. This effect results from the drugs altering our brain chemistry and creating mood or sensory altering experiences. Drugs can do this by interfering with how the brain's neurotransmitters operate. Typically for drugs with a higher rate of abuse, it is found that this interference with the neurotransmitters causes the increased release of a hormone called dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter/hormone that shows up in the brain in areas of emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure.

The presence of dopamine is a large biological factor in the development of drug abuse issues and addiction. Some people are more prone to a stronger reaction to these neurotransmitters and can become dependent on the release of dopamine the drugs provide. This puts some people at a higher biological risk for addiction.

Family Influence on Drug Use

Family is also a significant influencing factor in drug use and misuse. This is mainly the focus of social learning theory.

The social learning theory is the theory that explains drug use as a learned behavior.

The idea behind this theory is primarily that people learn drug use behavior from other drug users, usually from a primary social group like family, peers, or significant others. Primary social group influence is strong because it normalizes the behavior, and in a practical sense, it can provide someone access to the drug. Often teens who have grown up with parents who over-consume alcohol accept this behavior as standard, which can build patterns of learned family behavior.

Researchers have found that negative family dynamics can play a significant role in the potential for developing drug use behaviors. For example, children of divorced or separated parents are at a higher risk for developing substance abuse and addictive behaviors than their peers from stable homes.

Peer Pressure on Use of Drug

While family and other primary groups strongly influence one's potential to develop addiction or drug abuse behaviors, our peers are the most influential group. This is due to the power of differential reinforcement.

Differential reinforcement is the ratio of favorable and unfavorable reinforcements for drug use behavior.

Peer groups that use drugs provide a high level of favorable reinforcement to encourage a particular kind of drug use in others. This includes things like:

  • The general preference for one kind of drug within a particular group of friends, subgroup, or community.

  • The age of initial drug use (adolescence, teen, young adult, adult).

  • The frequency of use and access to various drugs.

While teenagers can be more susceptible than adults, people of all ages can be subdued to drug use. Life circumstances, such as grief, debt, and marital stress, overwhelm adults. This can lead to an unfavorable ratio of substance use reinforcements.

Labeling Theory

In addition to differential reinforcement, the labeling theory also seeks to explain the potential influence peer groups have on drug use and misuse. This theory suggests that the perceptions of others influence how we see ourselves. This can explain how some people begin to see themselves as socially deviant and reinforce that image with drug use behavior.

Subculture theory

Influences on drug use, friends smoking, StudySmarterFriends Smoking, pixaby.com

The subculture theory focuses on the direct peer-pressure influence of initial drug use. This theory essentially explains drug use as a peer group initiated activity. Comments such as "A little won't hurt," "You can trust us," and "Look, we are all ok" are all examples of the subculture theory in action.

Structural Influence Theory

The structural influence theory focuses on the organization of society as an influence on drug use. This theory explores how societal disorganization impacts deviant behavior within groups. Rapid social change is one explanation for the disorganization and the inability to meet sought-after goals. One example of this is genuinely working hard and still being unable to meet financial demands. This type of societal disorganization and disenfranchisement puts groups at a higher risk for drug use and addiction.

According to a study done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse at Columbia University, teenagers who regularly use popular social media sites were:

  • 5x more likely to purchase cigarettes
  • 3x more likely to drink underage
  • 2x more likely to use marijuana

Many of the theories that apply to peer pressure's effect on influencing drug use also apply to social media and other forms of popular media.

Drug Use Protective Factors

While we know what some potential influences are on the use of drugs, there are also protective factors. They reduce the potential for substance use within primary social groups. Protective factors for teenagers/ youth include:

  • Strong family relationships

  • Parental supervision of children and teens as well as their peers

  • Enforced rules of conduct within a family

  • Involved parents

  • Successful school performance

  • Strong social connections

  • Adoption of conventional norms on substance use

Influences on Drug use - Key takeaways

  • The presence of dopamine is a large biological factor in the development of drug abuse issues and addiction.
  • The social learning theory explains drug use as a learned behavior.
  • Differential reinforcement is the ratio of favorable and unfavorable reinforcements for drug use behavior.
  • The labeling theory is the theory that the perceptions of others influence how we see our self-image.
  • The subculture theory focuses on the direct peer-pressure influence of initial drug use. This theory essentially explains drug use as a peer group initiated activity.
  • The structural influence theory explores how societal disorganization impacts deviant behavior within groups.

Frequently Asked Questions about Influences on Drug Use

Protective factors for drug use are strong family relationships, parental supervision of children and teens, enforced rules with a family, involved parents, strong social connections, and learning and abiding to the conventional norms If substance use. 

Influences of drug use can be biological, familial, or peer-based. 

Social media has been found to increase the likelihood drug use between 2-5x. 

The environment can influence drug use through rapid social change. One example of this is genuinely working hard and still being unable to meet financial demands. This type of societal disorganization and disenfranchisement puts groups at a higher risk for drug use and addiction.

Social factors that influence drug use are family and peer-based. Family and peer groups hold a powerful influence over our perception of drug use, access to drugs, and likelihood to consume drugs. 

Final Influences on Drug Use Quiz

Question

What is substance abuse? 

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Answer

Substance abuse is the excessive use of an illicit or prescription drug or medication that may negatively affect the person. 

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Question

What percentage of people above 12 in the United States may fit the description of having a substance abuse disorder?

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7.2 percent

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Question

What is the name of the questionnaire used to screen for alcohol use disorder?

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Answer

CAGE

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Addiction may be described as a ______?

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Answer

Chronic Brain Disease

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Addiction can only be to drugs or alcohol. True or False?

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Answer

False

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Gambling is another form of addiction. True or False?

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Answer

True

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Question

Genetics may account for ___ percent of determining whether or not someone will develop an addiction.

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Answer

50

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There are certain genes related to developing alcohol addiction. True or False?

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Answer

True

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Question

Genetic alterations may account for changes in the _______ system. 

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Answer

Dopamine 

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Question

What is the mechanism of action of Chantix?

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Answer

Partial nicotinic receptor agonist 

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Question

Identical twins are most likely to either both be alcoholics, or neither. True or False?


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Answer

True

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Children of parents with alcoholism are less likely to develop alcoholism after being adopted by healthy parents. True or False?

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True

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Question

Which neuroanatomical structure is implicated in drug addiction? (Decision making)

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Answer

The orbitofrontal cortex.

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Which neuroanatomical structure is implicated in relapse? 

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Answer

Nucleus Accumbens 

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The orbitofrontal cortex has higher volume or lower volume in patients with addiction? 

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Answer

Lower

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Question

True or False?

Caffeine is a socially acceptable psychoactive drug. 

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Answer

True 

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Question

Drugs with a higher rate of abuse cause the increased release of a hormone called ______.

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Answer

dopamine

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Question

What is dopamine?

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Answer

A neurotransmitter/hormone that shows up in the brain in areas of emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure 

Show question

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True or False?

Everyone has the same amount of neurotransmitters and has the same addiction risk.

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Answer

False. Some people are more prone to a stronger reaction to these neurotransmitters. This puts some people at a higher biological risk for addiction. 

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__________________ is the theory that explains drug use as a learned behavior. 

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Answer

The social learning theory

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What is differential reinforcement?


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Answer

the ratio of favorable and unfavorable reinforcements for drug use behavior

Show question

Question

True or False?

The labeling theory suggests that perceptions of others influence how we see our self-image

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Answer

True

Show question

Question

What theory explains drug use as a peer group initiated activity?

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Answer

subculture theory

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Question

What theory explores how societal disorganization impacts deviant behavior within groups?

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Answer

structural influence theory

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Question

_______________ are factors that reduce the potential for substance use within primary social groups.

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Answer

Protective factors

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Question

What subgroup of our primary group is the most influential in developing drug addiction?

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Answer

Peers

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Question

Which of the following is not an example of social-cultural influences? 

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Answer

Stress

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Question

What is egocentrism?

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Answer

Egocentrism is the tendency for a person to believe that everyone is paying attention to everything they are doing (even though it's more likely they are paying more attention to their own behaviors).  

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What are the four psychological factors? 

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Answer

Motivation, perception, learning, and attitude

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True or False? Many times, people who are being treated for substance use are also being treated for another mental health condition.

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Answer

True

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What is one of the main psychological predictors of whether or not a person will stop using substances? 

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Answer

Motivation

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Question

__________________ refers to a situation in which a person changes their behavior, thoughts, or values because they want to be accepted by others and don't want to be left out or appear foolish. 


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Normative social influence

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True or False? Normative social influence seems to occur more frequently during adulthood than adolescence. 

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Answer

False

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How do cigarette companies use normative social influence to their advantage while targeting teens?


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Answer

They make it look cool or culturally accepted to smoke to try to convince teens that they have to smoke to fit in.

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True or False? Normative social influences can be at play even if we perceive that certain behavior is socially acceptable.

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Answer

True

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Question

_______________ refers to a situation in which a person changes their behavior, thoughts, or values because they believe the group knows best.

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Informational social influence

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True or False? The clearest difference between informational and normative social influence is that if a informational social influence is at play, people will change their behavior regardless of how accurate or "right" they think the group is.


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True

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Question

If you walk into a room and everyone is sitting down with their eyes closed, you may think they are doing so for a reason you are unaware of. So you sit down and close your eyes as well. This is an example of what type of social influence?

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Answer

Informational social influence

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Question

Johnny and Elisa are in the same cross-fit class after school. Johnny doesn't drink because he knows no one else in the class does and he's afraid of being outcasted by the group if they found out. 

abstains so they can have more endurance. She just assumes that's the best choice because she is just getting into cross-fit.  What type of social influence are Johnny and Elisa experiencing?

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Answer

Johnny is experiencing normative social influence; Elisa is experiencing informational social influence. 

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Question

Jackson just graduated from high school and decided to take a gap year. He has been smoking a lot of marijuana lately because he has been lacking a sense of purpose.  Is Jackson's drug use due to psychological or social-cultural influences? 

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Answer

Psychological

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True or False? Social-cultural influences are only at play when a person is deciding to do drugs, not when they decide not to or to stop. 

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Answer

False

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Question

Are there actual treatments to help someone with addiction?

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Answer

Yes

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Question

What is the main part of our brain that is interfered with when addicted to drugs?

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Answer

Neurotransmitters

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Question

Why does an increase in dopamine make people want to do the drug again?

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Answer

Dopamine is responsible for pleasure, so taking drugs makes the person feel really good, making them want to take it again

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What would a social learning theorist believe?

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Answer

Someone does drugs because their parents do drugs

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According to the social learning theory, who is not in the primary social group?

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Family

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Question

According to the social learning theory, why are people who are exposed to drugs by their primary social group more likely to get addicted?

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Answer

The use of drugs becomes normalized and can provide them access to the drugs

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Question

Does your parents' marital status impact your likelihood of drug use?

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Answer

Yes - people from divorced parents have a higher likelihood of developing a drug addiction

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Question

What are aspects of drug use that peers affect?

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Answer

  • The general preference for one kind of drug within a particular group of friends, subgroup, or community
  • The age of initial drug use (adolescence, teen, young adult, adult)
  • The frequency of use and access to various drugs

Show question

Question

Which theory does not center around peer influence?

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Answer

Labeling

Show question

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