Thursday, May 24, 2012

Addiction and Negative Reinforcement

In the addictions chapter I found it interesting that drugs addicts are motivated by both positive and negative reinforcement. The addict escapes or reduces negative affect that results from drug withdrawal. However, the anticipation of negative affect can motivate drug use as a case of avoidance behavior. An addict uses a drug in to order to prevent a negative affect(Deckers 94). People use drugs at first to obviously seek pleasure, but with every high there is also a low. A person addicted to a drug like heroin for example will build up a high tolerance the more they use it. They will no longer feel the euphoric high they experienced when their addiction first started. It is common to hear about someone who is addicted for a long time start to use drugs just to feel normal. When a person decides to quit heroin or doesn't get their fix they will experience an emotional and physically painful withdrawal process.

That doesn't look fun. Avoiding a harrowing withdrawal experience like the example in the film Trainspotting would obviously be a strong motivator for someone to continue their addiction. Drugs make a person feel good, high, and euphoric, which are positive reinforcers for their continued use(Deckers 93). It seems that addicts first start using to continue reinforcing the good feelings Deckers describes, but overtime time the spectrum flips itself. Instead of running towards the good feelings it seems that an addict's main concern is to run away from the withdrawal process.