Theory of Addiction

Addiction Press

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The word ‘addiction’ these days is used to refer to a chronic condition where there is an
unhealthily powerful motivation to engage in a particular behaviour. This can be driven by
many different factors – physiological, psychological, environmental and social. If we say that it
is all about X, we miss V, W, Y and Z. So, some people think addicts are using drugs to escape
from unhappy lives, feelings of anxiety and so on; many are. Some people think drugs become
addictive because they alter the brain chemistry to create powerful urges; that is often true.
Others think that drug taking is about seeking after pleasure; often it is. Some take the view that
addiction is a choice – addicts weigh up the pros and cons of doing what they do and decide
the former outweigh the latter. Yet others believe that addicts suffer from poor impulse control;
that is often true… And so it goes on.

When you look at the evidence, you see that all these positions capture important aspects of
the problem – but they are not complete explanations. Neuroscience can help us delve more
deeply into some of these explanations, while the behavioural and social sciences are better at
exploring others. We need a model that puts all this together in a way that can help us decide
what to do in different cases. Should we prescribe a drug, give the person some ‘tender loving
care’, put them in prison or what? Theory of Addiction provides this synthesis.

The first edition was well received:

‘Throughout the book the reader is exposed to a vast number of useful observations...The
theoretical aims are timely, refreshing, ambitious and above all challenging. It opens up a new
way of looking at addiction and has the potential to move the field of addiction a considerable
leap forward. Thus we wholeheartedly would like to recommend the book for students as well
as scholars. Read and learn!’ Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

‘The book provides a comprehensive review of existing theories - over 30 in all - and this
synthesis of theories constitutes an important contribution in and of itself... West is to be
commended for his synthesis of addiction theories that span neurobiology, psychology and
social science and for his insights into what remains unexplained.’ Addiction

This new edition of Theory of Addiction builds on the first, including additional theories in
the field, a more developed specification of PRIME theory and analysis of the expanding
evidence base.
With this important new information, Theory of Addiction will continue to be essential reading
for all those working in addiction, from student to experienced practitioner – as urged above,
Read and learn! 
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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.

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Additional Information

John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Aug 14, 2013
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Medical / General
Psychology / Psychopathology / Addiction
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In the treatment of addictions and their psychological understanding, cognitive-behavioural and motivation approaches have been paramount. In contrast, the psychodynamic contribution has been muted. This book redresses this imbalance by bringing together a team of senior clinicians with psychotherapeutic backgrounds as well as extensive experience in addiction. Stress is placed on the diversity of psychodynamic understanding and its relevance to the everyday problems met by addicted individuals. The first theoretical part of the book is followed by examples from group and individual therapy, and the foreword is written by Dr Edward Khantzian. The Psychodynamics of Addiction will be of interest to psychotherapists who may lack experience in addiction, and to other clinicians working in the field - doctors, nurses and psychologists. Introduction - Review of Different Schools: Container and Contained: The School of Bion - The Application of Bowlby’s Attachment Theory to the Psychotherapy of Addictions - The Vulnerable Self: Heinz Kohut and the Addictions - Therapy: Dynamics of Addiction in the Clinical Situation - Psychodynamic Assessment of Drug Addicts - Individual Psychotherapy with Addicted People - Group Therapy for Addiction - Helping the Helpers: Psychodynamic Perspective on Relapse Prevention in Addiction - In Search of A Reliable Container: Staff Supervision in a DDU -Countertransference with Addicts - Addiction and the Family: Growing up with Alchohol or Drug Abuse in the Family - References - Index
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