Psychological Factors in Drug-Taking Behavior

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  • 0:00 Drugs & Psychopathology
  • 1:01 Psychosocial Factors
  • 2:24 Psychopathological Factors
  • 3:39 Other Factors
  • 4:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

What are the psychological factors that predispose or push someone to drug use? Is it all because of mental illness? Is it all the media's fault? You'll find out about some of these factors in this lesson.

Drugs and Psychopathology

I'm not necessarily saying this as a point of being holier than thou, but I've never done any drugs. The question though, is why? Why is it that I, being subject to the same peer and media pressures growing up as other kids and adults, have never done drugs, while others have tried them or even have become addicted to them? You may or may not have done drugs too. The question again either way, is why? One of the reasons why some people are more likely to engage in drug taking behavior is their psychological, and more specifically, psychopathological makeup. Meaning, it's their mental disorder or a manifestation of a mental disorder, that plays a role in their drug use. This is not to say by any means that someone who has tried drugs or become addicted to them has a mental disorder. But, psychological factors do play a role in some people's drug taking behaviors.

Psychosocial Factors

You'll soon see why mental illnesses are only one psychological factor in a person's drug taking behavior. This is because psychosocial factors play a role in a person's choice in using or not using drugs. Psychosocial refers to something involving social and psychological aspects. For example, when people are growing up, their psychological makeup and view of the world and what is right, wrong, risky, or not, can be influenced by the social constructs around them. Role models, such as older friends, family members, or celebrities, may influence a person's views on drug use. If very close friends use drugs, adolescents are more likely to use drugs as well. The same is true if a child grows up in a family that uses drugs. The same can be said of celebrities that espouse drug use, indirectly influencing a child in such a way that the child thinks using drugs is cool. Okay?

Additionally, the community where the child grows up can greatly influence drug-taking behavior. If children grow up in a place where drugs are rampant, they are more likely to use and abuse drugs.

I don't have close friends who did drugs and no one in my family was a drug user, so perhaps this helps explains my aversion to them, since I was always around the presence of people who were turned off by drug use. Of course, these psychosocial factors help explain some, but not all, drug taking behavior.

Psychopathological Factors

This is because research has shown that individuals who have or are susceptible to mental disorders are more prone to addiction. These disorders can be quite varied. Mood disorders, thought disorders and personality disorders have all been in one way or another implicated in predisposing an individual to drug use and, ultimately, drug addiction.

Mood disorders include the likes of anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Thought disorders, include things like schizophrenia. An example of a personality disorder is anti-social personality disorder.

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