The specific way that individual behavior interacts with the group engenders mutually supportive behaviors. For example, one of the central theoretical theses comes from the early 1950s and is called the Social Learning Theory. This has a number of permutations, but suggests that the effect of behavior has a specific impact on the motivation of people who engage in that specific type of behavior. For instance, most of us want to avoid negative consequences, while filling our lives with positive results and effects. The expected outcome is usually the one most likely to happen - which can be both positive and/or negative, but is constructivist in the approach that a combination of environmental (social) and psychological factors influence behaviors like addiction. For drug addiction, one can think of someone who is able to continue their behavior in order to support what substances do to them by continually reinforcing that behavior. Using this theory, the idea of reinforcement helps us understand several aspects of addiction. For instance, why individuals react so differently to the same substance/drug? How the individual's unique relationship with the environment determines drug reactions? And finally, how individuals are able to modify their reactions through sheer force of will (Bandura, 1977; Castle & Hensley, 2002). It makes sense, then, to see the positives within society and/or culture in sympathy with the Christian view of culture and society. It is also easy to see that the individual's relationship with their spiritual side can have a profound effect upon their ability to heal.
Differences Between Biblical and Professional Views of Addiction Counseling
Medical and Biological theories of addiction counseling tend to differ between Biblical and Professional viewpoints. In general, this group of theories attempts to separate the genetic and environmental aspects of addictive behavior. Advances in our understanding of genetics allows us to control for the environment, and find that there is some genetic predisposition towards substance abuse. What remains unclear, though, is whether it is the addictive behavior that is actually encoded within the individual or a biological mechanism (reward, neurochemicals, and physical addiction) that allow someone to varying levels of a substance e in their system and have a completely different experience and addiction profile. Going a bit further, the exposure theory is based on the idea that the introduction of a substance into the human biological system on a regular basis will lead to addiction -- simply as a consequence of biology. This also goes along with an endorphin related explanation that believes that certain drugs mimic actions by neurochemicals, and tend to shut them down or limit their production. Because the body relies on the artificial form, addiction occurs. Thus, this group of theories indicates that we have a predisposition genetically for addiction, but that the physical structure and biochemical nature of our bodies enhances that predisposition (Nestler, 2000; Brain on Drugs - the Science of Drug Receptors, 2005).
Psychological theories are a popular grouping of theories says that humans self-administer substances because the chemicals active the reinforcement system in the brain. There are psychological factors that cause this to happen, and the addiction becomes physical because of the activation of dopamine receptors in the brain. It is, however, the cumulative result of continuous reinforcement that becomes a central tenet of addiction. The complex psychological process that allows humans to learn also allows increased flexibility in choosing behaviors to emulate. Substances tend to bring on a euphoria that is not typically experienced, so the mind tends to crave a repeat of that behavior and result. Culture plays into the perception of the use of substances, too. So does behavior that is closely tied to social and peer groups, often resulting in the group norm and peer pressure overriding the individual's own bias. This is also true for humans in that if there are other alternatives to addictive behavior, the individual is more likely to redirect their focus. Thus, the psychological approach combines acculturation with psychological needs and factors the environment into the equation as well (Goode, 2011)
Christian theory, however, tends to focus more on a fundamental change in both the therapist and client based on the situation. The locus of the therapeutical relationship is, of course, the foundation that the heart has been formed by God. Suffering is undergoing, and if a heart that has undergone suffering is touched by God's love, it can be healed. The core of this idea in addiction counseling is the surrendering that the patient must accomplish. To make a profound and deep change in addiction behavior, the patient must first relinquish their suffering to God, revalue their own spiritual state and come to terms with the core challenge of their addiction. For example, the Disease Model of Addiction focuses on genetic, psychosocial, environmental, pharmacological, and biological/physiological factors in order to explain the addiction and/or addictive behavior. This becomes a scientific, or quantitative model that looks at disease in a finite causality. The Biblical model, however, focuses on the notion that there is a core spirituality that must be addressed before one can be truly healed. Addiction is not a disease, but a spiritual bondage that takes into account five major templates:
1. Sin exists and is the gateway to addiction. If one does not turn to God for relief, there will not be the breaking of the sinful bondage.
2. In his wisdom, God will allow the sinful bondage to occur -- so vehement that it seems impossible to escape on one's own. It is God's desire to show the individual that they are broken, and must accept Divine power to overcome sin.
3. Prior to accepting Christ, most addicts move into a state of spiritual bankruptcy -- a feeling of total emptiness that shatters the soul.
4. When one recognizes this state of bankruptcy, there is a plea to Christ to forgive, deliver, heal and restore one's soul.
5. The primary role of the Biblical counselor is to help the individual through the process and, through Biblical teaching, provide wisdom and guidance to alleviate the sinful addiction and accompanying behaviors (Belzman, 2010).
It seems as if addiction occurs because the brain is fooled into desiring the particular stimuli -- the binding of that drug's molecules to the receptors, in a way that either causes great pleasure or chemically alters the pathways in order to function. Another way of describing the same events are that the addiction is based in evil. Substance abuse tends to produces both short- and long-term changes in the reward centers of the brain, thus increasing both tolerance and need This is the scientific or quantitative view of addiction and resultant behaviors. Qualitatively, one can add the nature of spirituality to the equation, and still find a clear and description theoretical basis for human behavior and the resultant issues of addiction (Nestler & Melenka, the Addicted Brain, 2004; Barnette, 2009).
It is rather unlikely that there is a single theory that explains any one aspect of human behavior. Rather, it is more likely that there is a conglomeration that, when put together in a juxtaposition, a more holistic approach is more likely. People may have genetic predispositions toward addiction and, when put into certain cultural or societal situations, that predisposition is acted upon. Once acted upon, the biological nature of the brain and body are activated, which allows for a physical addiction. Thus, because of the unique and individualistic nature of humans, addiction, like other behaviors, is quite dependent upon a host of stimuli -- both physical and psychological. In this realm, spirituality and the belief structure of Christianity hold a clear and concise template of ways in which behaviors can be mitigated as well as how individuals can find strength and support through their personal relationship with Christ.
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