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Addiction: Social and Cultural Influences

A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP, Kaushik Misra, Ph.D., Amy K. Epner, Ph.D., and Galen Morgan Cooper, Ph.D. , edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D.

We have been discussing the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual (BPSS) model of addiction. We've used this model to answer the question "How do people get addicted?" So far, we have reviewed the biological reasons people can get addicted. The biological portion of the BPSS model considers addiction a brain disease with biological, chemical, and genetic roots. We've also reviewed the psychological reasons people can get addicted. The psychological portion of the model views addiction as a learned behavior, a problem of faulty thinking, or of developmental delay. Other psychological disorders also contribute directly or indirectly to the development of an addiction.

Psychology is concerned with understanding individual human behavior. In contrast, sociology is concerned with understanding the behavior of larger groups (families, organizations, societies, cultures). Sociologists and psychologists both study the influence of these groups on individual behavior. From a sociological perspective, addiction is a harmful behavior that affects both individuals and groups. As such, we can only understand and correct addiction within the context of the society in which it occurs.