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Theory of Addiction


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Table of Contents

Preface ix 1 Introduction: journey to the centre of addiction 1 Preparing for the journey 1 In the end 3 What this book does 5 The synthetic theory of addiction in brief 7 References 9 2 Definition, theory and observation 10 Defining addiction (addiction is not an elephant) 10 Diagnosing and measuring addiction 20 Theory and supposition 22 ?Big observations? in the field of addiction 30 Recapitulation 36 References 36 3 Beginning the journey: addiction as choice 41 Addiction as a reflective choice 41 Box 3.1 The myth of addiction 44 Box 3.2 Vaguely right or precisely wrong? The Theory of Rational Addiction 45 Box 3.3 The Self-medication Model of addiction 50 Box 3.4 Opponent Process Theory 53 Irrational, ill-informed choice and unstable preferences 60 Box 3.5 Expectancy Theories 62 Box 3.6 Skog?s Choice Theory 65 Box 3.7 Slovic?s Affect Heuristic 67 Box 3.8 Cognitive Bias Theories 70 Box 3.9 Behavioural Economic Theories 72 Box 3.10 Gateway Theory 78 Box 3.11 The Transtheoretical Model of behaviour change 80 Box 3.12 Identity shifts and behaviour change 86 Addiction as the exercise of choice based on desires 87 References 89 4 Choice is not enough: the concepts of impulse and self-control 95 Reports of feelings of compulsion 95 Powerful motives versus impaired control 96 Box 4.1 The Disease Model of addiction 96 Personality and addiction typologies 98 Box 4.2 Tridimensional Personality Theory 98 Self-efficacy 100 Box 4.3 Self-efficacy Theory 100 The transition from lapse to relapse 102 Box 4.4 The Abstinence Violation Effect 102 Impulse control 105 Box 4.5 Inhibition Dysregulation Theory 106 Self-regulation as a broadly based concept 108 Box 4.6 Self-regulation Theory 108 Urges and craving 108 Box 4.7 A Cognitive Model of Drug Urges 109 Addiction as a failure of self-control over desires and urges 110 References 111 5 Addiction, habit and instrumental learning 114 Instrumental learning 114 Box 5.1 Instrumental learning (operant conditioning) and addiction 115 Mechanisms underpinning instrumental learning 118 Box 5.2 The Dopamine Theory of Drug Reward 119 Box 5.3 Addiction arising from functional neurotoxicity of drugs 121 Classical conditioning 122 Box 5.4 Classical conditioning and addiction 122 More complex learning models 124 Box 5.5 Addiction as a learning/memory process 125 Box 5.6 Incentive Sensitisation Theory 126 Box 5.7 Balfour?s theory of differential drug effects within the nucleus accumbens 129 Social learning 130 Box 5.8 Social Learning Theory 131 Associative learning 133 References 133 6 Addiction in populations, and comprehensive theories 136 Addiction in populations 136 Box 6.1 Diffusion Theory 137 Comprehensive theories of addiction 139 Box 6.2 Excessive Appetites Theory 140 Box 6.3 The Pathways Model of pathological gambling 146 What is addiction and how can we explain it? 149 References 150 7 Development of a comprehensive theory 152 A functional classification of theories of addiction 153 Addiction as reflective choice 158 Addiction as irrational choice 162 Addiction, compulsion and self-control 165 Addiction, instrumental learning and habit 168 Addiction, choice, compulsion and habit 179 References 185 8 A synthetic theory of motivation 192 Understanding behaviour in context: the COM-B model 192 Focus on motivational theory 194 The human motivational system 194 Structure and function of the human motivational system 195 The ?head model? 205 Momentum and inertia 206 Adaptation: ways in which experience affects motivational disposition 207 The ?representational system?, consciousness and dual process models 210 Self and self-control 213 Mental effort and motivational resources 216 What motivates us 216 The unstable mind 218 A summary: key propositions from PRIME theory 225 References 227 9 A theory of addiction 229 Addiction is 229 The pathologies underlying addiction 230 A return to some ?big observations? about addiction 233 The abnormalities underlying addiction 241 Effects of interventions 244 Recommendations and predictions regarding addiction interventions 244 Testing the theory 250 First results 251 Conclusions 252 References 253 Index 257

About the Author

Robert West is Director of Tobacco Studies at the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit at University College London. He has been researching tobacco and nicotine dependence since 1982 and has published more than 250 scientific works. His research involves surveys of smoking patterns, clinical trials of aids to smoking cessation and laboratory studies of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. He is co-author of the English National Smoking Cessation Guidelines that provided the blueprint for the English Stop Smoking Services and is also Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Addiction.


I enjoyed reading this book and strongly recommend that it be read by all professionals working in the field of addiction. (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 1 February 2015)

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