Theories on Addiction Old and the New Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Old and New Theories of Addiction


Connections between the Old and the New Theories of Addiction

Addiction in the Earlier Centuries, Early Theories

the Temperance Movement

In the 17th century, alcohol did not have a bad name (Sturt, 2009). It was even more respected and considered safer than water and more healthful. This made the innkeeper of spirits a valuable member of the community in those days. Moreover, man was perceived as distinct from nature. Man has a soul and free will and a sense of responsibility for his actions. Animals, in contrast, only possess biological drives. This perception of man viewed alcoholics as too indulgent in the habit and, therefore, must be punished. In the late century up to the early 20th century, the formation of the temperance movement introduced the view of drinking as evil, which makes alcoholics victims. The first disease concept surfaced at this time and viewed alcoholism as an illness. It condoned drinkers as merely passive and giving in to the power and influence of alcohol (Sturt). The temperance movement advocated abstinence, particularly alcohol, so strongly that it led to the passage of prohibition laws (ProCon, 2014). Banning the use of alcohol became a problem to the authorities. Its growing popularity also presented as a source of high levels of taxes. Stern attitudes towards drinking and errant human behavior were becoming lax. Only a small minority who drank alcohol to excess were considered problematic and had to be treated. But the greater part of society took alcohol consumption as an agreeable habit (ProCon).


In January 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed three bills sponsored by Representative Francis B. Harrison, called the Harrison Act, to remedy the drug problem (ProCon, 2014). It required physicians who prescribed opium or any of its derivatives to add a serial number obtainable only from the Internal Revenue Department on every prescription. They also had to register with the federal government every year. By 1936, the use of marijuana was replaced by other pain killers, including opium-derived drugs (ProCon).

Iatrogenic Theory

This theory states that addiction or dependence on drugs develops as a result of unnecessary prescribing by physicians and pharmacists (Mustro, 1985). It also developed from dosing children and infants and the prescribing of opiates for dysmenorhea or menstrual pain. This view prevailed until 1914, especially among the upper and middle classes (Murton). From this followed the social contagion theory.

Social Contagion Theory

This theory holds that individuals are influenced by the behavior, attitudes and values of others (Tarter, 2014). The influence can be in the form of direct role modeling or from observation of behaviors in the media. Watching violent films on TV, for example, enhances the likelihood of violence. This theory suggests that this influence is particularly intense among adolescents, who are most susceptible to the influence of drug use. It is not easy for them to…

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