The Psychology of Addictive Behaviour


  • Addiction refers to a range of behaviours associated with a dependence on something.
  • Tobacco dependence is the most common addiction, although it is a decreasing one in most developing countries.
  • 12% of adults or 30% of 18- 24 year olds take illegal drugs.
  • The diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-R) is used to diagnose addictions.
  • There are three main stages of addiction
  • Initiation- why the addiction starts?
  • Maintenance-why does it continue despite the consequences?
  • Relapse- why have people who have stopped, started again?
  • The term tolerance is when a person needs to engage more and more in the activity to maintain the positive feeling.
  • Withdrawal is where a person stops engaging in their addictive behaviour and experiences a range of unpleasant physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, aches and pains, etc.
  • Detoxification can take place with or without specialist organisations and facilities. It is achieved when the drug is completely removed from the persons system.