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Discussion About Substance Abuse from Dr. Hinshaw

Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, a renowned psychologist, researcher, and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, opens up the discussion about substance abuse with some riveting points. In an upper division course, Dr. Hinshaw introduces the Development Psychopathology model, or DP model, as an alternate perspective regarding mental illness. Treatment Alternatives of New York would like to provide as much information as possible on the matter, particularly by representing various perspectives. Here is the Developmental Psychopathology approach to substance abuse.


Dr. Hinshaw remarks that it is rarer for a person to abuse drugs without another linking factor or issue. If the person has the exclusive issue of drug abuse, then it is likely to be an internalizing issue, such as anxiety or depression. However, drug abuse is more commonly linked with other externalizing issues, such as conduct issues, ADHD, or even Autism Spectrum Disorder, this one usually occurring at a later onset.


As far as physical addiction goes, Dr. Hinshaw explains that the discussion about substance abuse roots back to how physiological dependence is due to an ever-increasing tolerance for the substance. There are two forms of tolerance: metabolic and cellular. Metabolic tolerance occurs when the substance increases your body’s enzymes to degrade the substance. As your enzymes become more effective at decomposing the drug in your system, you start to need more of it to produce the same effects. Cellular tolerance occurs when the substance alters brain’s physiology and chemistry, so that the neurotransmitter receptors become less sensitive to the substance. Because of these two forms of tolerance, substance users slowly grow more dependent on a larger dosage in order to attain the same high each time. The reason it is difficult to cease using the substance is because your body goes through a withdrawal period. Essentially, the body experiences side effects that consist of the exact effects of the drug. For example, if a drug acts a stimulant, then the withdrawal effects will cause you to feel sluggish.


The DP perspective proposes that an early age of onset of drug use is highly predictive of later addiction. Some speculate that this is because with cannabis users, for instance, perhaps THC receptors are vulnerable to early use. A potential cause based on psychosocial factors could be that early starters become diverted from academic and social-oriented goals.


There are also family and peer factors that can contribute to later drug use. One could be low parental monitoring. Of course, some children have temperaments that make it harder for them to be managed. It could be the way that the child and parent interact, based on genetic dispositions as well as environmental restrictions. Peers can be another factor that influences a person. Peers may affect the path of a person, but there is something called selection bias that one must consider. Selection bias is the notion that a peer group may affect a person, but the person may have chosen that particular group of peers because they encourage and reinforce the same habits. There are so many factors that come into play that have an impact on a person’s future results. However, no matter how someone got to the place he/she is in now, there is always hope of turning things around. Treatment Alternatives of New York is here for this very reason.

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