Motivation When it Comes to Term Paper

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It is also possibly one of the most significant motivational factors among young people. Zuckerman refer to disinhibition as follows. "These who choose to follow a conventional lifestyle might periodically escape by engaging in social drinking..." (Franken, 2001, p. 343). This is an important factor as the desire or need for disinhibition may lead to an addictive patterns of behavior, where the drugs or alcohol supply the required escape from routine and inhibitory factors.

Disinhibition is also strongly related to the conventions of society where the individual may feel hemmed in and confined by the routine and patterns of ordinary life. This can lead to addictive behavior as the use of drugs or substances are motivated by the desire to free one's self and sense of identity and fulfill experiential needs.

The central concept that links al of these motivational theories is that they all can be seen to contribute to the understanding of the addictive process. This process occurs in a common sequence of event that involves loss of control or "self -administration."

The recreational and pleasurable use of drugs, associated at least in some cases with euphoria and/or flashing hallucinations.... However, progressively the user loses control over drug intake; he becomes a drug abuser and, finally, drug-dependent. He then needs the drug to function within normal limits. He seeks higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effect - that is, a degree of tolerance develops. (Changeux, 1998)

3.1. Opponent processes

Therefore, the most obvious motivational factor for the taking of drugs leading to addiction is the search for pleasure. However, as has been seen mentioned, there are many other psychological aspects involved in this process - including the search for experiential meaning and self-expression. Repeated drug usage often leads to tolerance and dependence. Consequently, "Compulsive drug taking is maintained, by this view, to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This two-sided hedonic hypothesis has gone by many different names: pleasure-pain, positive-negative reinforcement, opponent processes, hedonic homeostasis, hedonic dysregulation," (Robinson & Berridge, 2003, p. 25) in other words, according to this theory there is a double process that leads to addiction. The user first takes the drugs, motivated by the search for pleasure or the release from social inhibition, to escape from deadening conventions or routines, or for other psychological reasons. This in turn leads to the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms - which then results in more drugs to alleviate these withdrawal symptoms. This is the classic motivational cycle that leads ultimately to complete addiction.

Conditioning theories of motivation and addiction also state that the excessive use of a substance leading to addiction develops according to the need for rewarding behavior. The significance of conditioning theory is described as follows.

In classical conditioning, previously neutral stimuli become associated with reactions brought on in their presence by a primary reinforcer. Thus an addict who relapses can be conceived to have had his craving for the addiction reinstated by exposure to the settings in which he previously used drugs.

(Peele S. And Alexander B.)

4. Developmental theories

Following for the above discussion, there are many theories that discuss the relation between motivation, addiction and the early years of growth and development. This view also deals with the factor of adolescent cognition during the formative years." During the adolescent years a noteworthy shift occurs in the individual's perception of the external world and the self" (Trad, 1994, p.459). This "shift' in effect means that the adolescent engages in alternative and different courses of action in response to the world in which he or she lives. Young people may be motivated to take drugs as a response to the difficulties of growing up as well as to the social, psychological and physical changes that this period of development often brings. "...the teenager is often in the position of experimenting with new concepts, ideas, and actions - a position that may be fraught with risk, especially with regard to the abuse of drugs" (Trad, 1994, p. 459). Therefore, many researchers note that during this period various psychopathologic patterns emerge in some teenagers. (Trad, 1994, p.459)

There are a multitude of variables and motivational aspects that could be considered in this context. For example, in terms of the theory of disinhibition discussed above, the young person may be motivated by the desire to escape what he or she perceives as the unacceptable and confining norms of the society. Factor such as parental relationships, peer pressure, and other aspects add to the motivational complex that could lead to addiction.

Important in this regard is the sense of self-efficacy and self-esteem. As one commentator notes:

Self-esteem plummets as the adolescent strives to renegotiate a sense of identity. Significantly, low self-steem has been correlated with patterns of alcohol consumption (53-55) and may also predict the teenager's susceptibility to drug use. The inability to master social and intellectual skills, poor impulse control, and feelings of powerlessness have been correlated with the abuse of drugs in teenagers as well.

(Trad, 1994. p. 459)

The failure to attain an adequate sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy can be a strong motivational factor that can lead to drug abuse and addiction. The term self-efficacy in a psychological and psycho-educative as well as cognitive sense was coined by Albert Bandura (1989). The full terminology usually referred to is; "self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectancies" (Barkley, 2006, p 194).

In Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory (1986), Bandura states the view that, " individuals feel about their intellectual experiences influences how much control they will have over their feelings in relation to the experience, their overall thoughts of the experience..." (Kolata) Therefore, self-efficacy refers to those important aspects of self - determination, self-image, and motivation that provide a balanced and healthy life outlook. It is also related to the aspect of self-regulation, which is an important part of the addiction complex. Bandura elaborates on the significance of self-efficacy in a cognitive sense. " Perceived self-efficacy is defined as people's beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave "(Bandura: Self-Efficacy).

Self-efficacy acts through four major processes. These are the cognitive, motivational, affective and selection processes. In a cognitive theoretical sense efficacy beliefs are seen to act in conjunction with, "outcome expectations' and these two aspects," determine an individual's level of success when attempting to complete a task" (Barkley, 2006, p 194). Therefore, a low self-efficacy level can lead to drugs and other substances abuse in order to compensate - which in turn can lead to addictive behavior patterns.

5. Summation and conclusion

There are many other motivation theories that can be used to explain and understand addictive behavior. The incentive motivation model for instance emphasizes drive-reduction, which states that humans are motivated by certain drives towards a specific goal and that the primary motivational incentive is to reduce the drive. Neurophysiological and neuropsyhological theories should also be considered as part of the literature on this subject. Widiger and Sankis (2000) suggest that current research and studies indicate that, "...any excessively maladaptive motivation, interest, desire, or craving for a drug is fundamentally a neurophysiological pathology." (Widiger & Sankis, 2000, p. 377)

Motivational theories are extremely important in developing strategies to deal with addictions. The understanding of pleasure seeking and drug taking and the way that withdrawal tends to builds a syndrome of behavior that leads to addiction, is also an important facet of this area of study. In the final analysis, the various theories of motivation are important points of departure in the alleviation and the reduction of the negative outcomes of addictive behavior in our society.


Ammerman, R.T., Ott, P.J., & Tarter, R.E. (Eds.). (1999). Prevention and Societal Impact of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved December 6, 2007, from Questia database:

Barkley, J.M. (2006). Reading Education: Is Self-Efficacy Important?. Reading

Improvement, 43(4), 194+.

Bandura a. Self-Efficacy. Stanford University. Retrieved December 2, 2007, at

Bozarth M.A. (1990). Drug addiction as a psychobiological process. In D.M.

Warburton (Ed.), Addiction controversies (pp. 112-134 + refs). London: Harwood Academic Publishers.


Changeux, J. (1998). Drug Use and Abuse. Daedalus, 127(2), 145+.

Drug Abuse and Dependence. Retrieved December 2, 2007, at

Franken R.E. (2001) Human Motivation. New York: Wadsworth

Publishing Company.

Jaffe JH (1975). Drug addiction and drug abuse. in: Goodman LS, Gilman a eds) the pharmacological basis of therapeutics (pp. 284-324), MacMillan, New York.


Kandel, D.B. (Ed.). (2002). Stages and Pathways of Drug Involvement: Examining the Gateway Hypothesis. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Kolata K. Increasing Students' Efficacy Through the Multiple Intelligences:

Promoting Diversity in the Classroom. December 2, 2007 from

Peele S. And Alexander B. Theories of Addiction. Retrieve December 4, 2007 from

Simpson, M. (2002, August). Are Incentives for Drug Abuse Treatment Too Strong. Corrections Today, 64, 64+.


Trad, P.V. (1994).…[continue]

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