PSY 211 Unit 8 Lecture Notes (OER)
Substance-Related Disorders and Neurocognitive Disorders
Substance-Related Disorders Readings #1 and #2
When it comes to drug use, we must consider what is termed Physical Dependence on a drug. When a person has become physically dependent (though repeated use) on a drug they will show withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken. For instance, an individual who is addicted to caffeine (e.g., coffee) will likely experience a severe headache if he misses a day or two of drinking coffee. Withdrawal is essentially one’s body telling oneself: “Hey I like that drug—put it back.” So, we know that one is physically addicted when withdrawal symptoms are present. Each drug has its own form of withdrawal. For instance, alcohol withdrawal can cause the DT’s (Delirium Tremens) which is a severe reaction marked by a delirious state (one might not know where they are) and tremors (shakes and possible seizures).
Another important concept to understand is that of tolerance to a drug. Tolerance involves needing more and more of a drug over time to produce the same effect that a small amount of the drug used to produce. So, an individual who once “caught a buzz” on three beers may need 4 to achieve the buzz and then 6, then 8—etc., over time—you get the point. When you think of tolerance then, what you see is the body trying to adapt to or “tolerate” the substance that the body deems foreign.
Finally, Psychological Dependence must also be considered. This involves one’s belief system. Persons “think” that they need a drug in order to function. So, a person might state: “I just can’t get through my day without my Valium.”
There are several drug classes, each with their own effects. They are listed below:
Stimulants—These drugs increase central nervous system functioning (caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, Ritalin)
Depressants—These drugs decrease or suppress central nervous system functioning (alcohol, Valium, Xanax).
Opioids—These drugs cause a euphoric high and reduce pain (opium, morphine, heroin).
Cannabinoids—Marijuana (sometimes classified as a mild hallucinogen).
Hallucinogens—(“Psychedelic” Drugs). These drugs cause one to experience hallucinations (LSD–Lysergic Acid Diethylamide).
Inhalants–Paint fumes and other toxic vapors are inhaled by the user. Those who engage in such behavior are called “huffers.” Such toxins have the most direct route to the brain of all substances.
DSM-V Substance Use Disorders
Those with these disorders will manifest both physical and psychological dependence. The development of tolerance and the experience of withdrawal symptoms is common. There may be a singular focus in one’s life of obtaining and using the drug despite adverse consequences (e.g., disruptions in relationships and work performance).
Specific DSM-V Substance Use Disorders (Three examples are listed below).
Alcohol Use Disorder
Here is the link to an excellent article on this disorder:
Now, a significant amount of research has been conducted on alcohol use and many risk factors (see the article) for this disorder have been identified. One factor is genetics. Essentially, some individuals may be genetically pre-wired to develop this problem. Here is the link to an excellent video highlighting research on the genetics of alcoholism. Pay particular attention to the discussion of the absence of the P3 brain wave in those with alcohol use problems.
Inhalant Use Disorder
Here is the link to an article on this disorder:
Stimulant Use Disorder-There are different stimulant type drugs. One, as noted above, is cocaine. Here is the link to an article on this particular Stimulant Use Disorder.
There are different types of these disorders. Two in particular (Alzheimer’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease) result in the progressive loss of both mental and physical functioning and ultimately death. They are presented below:
a) Alzheimer’s Disease-Some of the symptoms of this disorder involves memory loss, wandering, and confusion. Specific brain abnormalities have been found with those afflicted with this disease. Please read the article and watch the video provided below.
b) Huntington’s Disease-This is a genetic-based illness which results in movement issues and a gradual deterioration of physical functioning. Please read the article and watch the video provided below.
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