Neuroscience Perspective

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In this essay I will be discussing about the causes of drug abuse from seven perspectives of psychology.
Drug abuse is the state of using drugs habitually. Drug abuse affects every community and life of individual itself and his/her family. According to a research (Dube, 2003) various reasons cause drug abuse, one of them is adverse childhood experiences. These types of experiences lead to the drug abuse problems, drug addiction etc. In this essay we will be discussing seven perspectives of psychology causing drug abuse.

Causes of drug abuse from each of psychology's seven perspectives:

  • Neuroscience
  • Evolutionary
  • Behavioral genetics
  • Psychodynamic
  • Behavioral
  • Cognitive
  • Social-Cultural

Neuroscience Perspective

First of all, general theory in neuroscience approach of drug abuse is that drugs initiate the reward circuit in the brain and that reward circuit makes the person feel high and he/ she finds pleasure after intake of drugs (Kelley & Berridge,2002). The parts of brain that are involved in reward circuit mechanism are amygdale and hippocampus. Various nerve impulses are released by reward circuit whose mechanisms are still unknown that gives the person feeling of immense pleasure after intake of the drugs. When a person intakes the drugs, inside his brain neurons are sent to the dorsal striatal and cortical areas by the ventral tegmentum(Winger et. al, 2005). These cortical areas are involved in the reward circuit mechanism. Drugs act as the prominent reinforces in reward circuit and it makes the individual feel pleasure in any situation. This feeling of pleasure leads to the drug abuse (Winger et. al, 2005).


Researchers have shown that the drug abuse is related to the evolutionary theory as from the medieval times for seek of pleasure and fun people used to take drugs. Darwin evolution theory suggest the survival of fittest and in case of drug abuse there are many cases in evolution where after taking drugs like cocaine leads to the survival of the human being. Evolutionary care also leads to the drug abuse. According to the evolutionary theory of Darwinian fitness, the drug abuse in the mammalian evolution (Saah, 2005) leads to the increased fitness but not happiness. Positive emotions were considered as a sign of fitness. In evolutionary development, nowadays drug abuse leads to the happiness not fitness. Person has very less reward efficiency and to seek the reward efficiency intake of drugs start. Than there comes difference between like and want and it leads to drug abuse.

Behavioral Genetics Perspective

Behavior genetics is the study of the genetic and the environmental influences on the behavior. A study was done to determine the genetic and environmental influences on the behavior of the adopted children and their parents who adopted them (Cadaret, 1995). This study reveals that the genetic environment and many environmental interactions lead to the aggressive behavior of the subjects. To calm down their aggression they started using drugs and this leads to drug abuse. Some subjects started intake of drugs to get aggression and this all leads to the drug abuse. Drug abuse can be explained by two genetic pathways. First, if biologic parents are drug addicted than it will cause drug abuse. Secondly adverse events in home, anxiety disorders etc causes drug abuse (Cadaret, 1995).

Psychodynamic Perspective

Freud proposed various psychodynamic theories which state that loss of anything or the person who or which was necessary for happiness in the life leads to the state of depression. The urge for seeking happiness leads to the intake of drugs which further becomes habit and thereby becomes drug abuse (Blatt, 1984). The difference between the expected emotional life of the individual and the reality in which he/ she is living leads to the drug abuse. The feeling of shame, guilt, feeling of worthlessness leads to the depression and it leads to the drug abuse. People who are drug addict feel it difficult to handle the situations like anxiety, depression and this leads to more drug abuse. Drug abuse creates the feelings in the person that help him overcome the harsh feelings of cruelty, unacceptance and various psychotic disorders as drug abuse will keep his mind happy in every situation and this leads to more drug abuse.

Behavioral Perspective

Behavior plays an important role in drug abuse. Researchers have done various researches which show that journey from initiating intake of drugs to drug abuse is dependable on the behavior of the person. In a recent study showed that the drug abuse is related to the impulsive behavior of a person. Impulsive behavior and drug abuse are correlated (Perry & Carroll, 2008). If the level of the impulsivity is increased than the drug abuse is increased and vice versa. Hence forth various behavioral aspects are influenced by drug abuse and various behavioral aspects lead to the drug abuse. Some studies were done on children and they concluded that various factors like child abuse, spouse abuse, violence against mother, living in a family where one of the family member is already a drug addict creates behavioral changes in a child and there are more chances that the child will become drug addict to overcome these things (Felitti, 1998).

Cognitive Perspective

Cognitive perspective suggest that the drug abuse is related to one's belief (Field, 2006). The positive and negative motivation both works in it as urge for drugs comes from both beliefs. In positive motivation feeling of getting more pleasure leads to the drug addiction. In case of negative motivation feeling of un-wanted leads to the drug addiction. The major cognitive mechanism leading to drug abuse is attention seeking. Drugs affects neuro-physiologically and starts vanishing memory and this leads to attention seeking which leads again to the drug abuse. It depends on the belief of a person. If a person starts believing that drugs are giving him happiness and are providing him attention what he was seeking, the person will take drug again and again and will become a drug addict.

Social-cultural Perspective

The social and cultural background of the person leads to fate of his life. If the social environment of the person is not good like he is having a stressful life, family conditions are not good feeling of broken house for example leads to the intake of drugs thereby leading to the drug abuse. After initiation person to keep himself happy tries it again and again and this leads to the drug abuse. Cultural behavior of a person leads to the drug abuse as it's in culture which a person lives grooms him. If a person is living in a culture where taking drugs is a common thing and is considered as the standard of living, he will definitely initiate the intake of the drugs which further leads to the drug abuse. The social and cultural life thus plays major role in building fate of human as it can create and destroy a person. Drug abuse can be caused due to social and cultural behavior of surroundings of a person.


So, in conclusion, there are many different psychological behaviors leading to drug abuse. These psychological perspectives work differently in every drug abuse case as human nature is different in every case. These psychological perspectives can be sometimes correlated and sometimes contradictory to each other as human nature is so vast to study.

Various psychological studies have been helpful in determining the causes of drug abuse and how drug abuse works. It gives a good approach in the case of drug abuse but still more research needs to be done as human behavior is difficult to understand.
The biological mechanisms of drug abuse are also there and are very reliable as they are not like human behavior that will change anytime. Thus, the psychological approach of drug abuse is more helpful.

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Neuroscience Perspective. (2019, Mar 22). Retrieved November 30, 2023 , from

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