These early views on the reasons for continued drug use have been replaced by recent research which have contrasting perspectives that suggest that negative reinforcement is not a strong influence on drug motivation. Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the motivation theories for drug/ alcohol use and addiction. Motivations for Drug Use Contemporary theory of the motivation for drug addiction makes paradoxical claims about the psychological basis for seeking drugs. Drug-seeking is considered to result from subjective craving for the positive effects of the drug, which suggests that this behavior is intentional. On the other hand, a key factor in the clinical diagnosis of drug dependence is that drug-seeking is resistant to the intention to quit, which means that drug-seeking is habitual or automatic. This is paradoxical, because drug seeking cannot be concurrently intentional and automatic (Hogarth & Chase, 2011). There are several reasons for people to take drugs. These include “peer pressure, relief of stress, to have increased energy, to relax, to relieve pain, to escape reality, to feel more self-esteem, and for recreation” (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2009, p.14591). Individuals resort to taking stimulants to keep alert, or cocaine for the feeling of excitement it produces. Similarly, athletes and bodybuilders may take anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass.
There are numerous stressors which increase the risk of alcohol use disorders in humans. In alcohol and other drug dependent (AOD) people, drug craving is increased by internal and external forms of stress, which can also trigger relapse (Wand, 2008). Stress is generally defined as “any stimulus that challenges physiological homeostasis – that is, which alters the balance or equilibrium of the normal physiological state of the organism” (Wand, 2008, p.119). However, various forms of stress have different physiological consequences, stimulating different combinations of signaling molecules. These molecules aid in cell-to-cell communication, such as neurohormones, and produce distinctive outcomes on physiological processes. Therefore, the type and duration of stress have to be specified, for planning the treatment. Further, individuals respond differently to a particular type of stress, “and physiological and behavioral responses tend to be associated with distinct coping styles” (Wand, 2008, p.120). An interaction of environmental and genetic factors play a part in both susceptibility to alcohol and other drugs (AOD) use disorders, and in people’s responses to stress. Prenatal and early life stress can have impacts on the body systems involved in the stress response, for the entire life span, thereby predisposing an individual to certain diseases. This early programming effect is partly affected by “epigenetic mechanisms that alter heritable traits without manifesting as changes in the DNA sequence, and which also can aid in the development of AOD disorders” (Wand, 2008, p.120). Motivation Theories for the Use and Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol An Affective Processing Model of Negative Reinforcement Baker, Piper and McCarthy (2004) reformulate the negative reinforcement model of drug addiction. They propose that the escape and avoidance of negative affect is the prepotent motive for