Sample Psychology Paper on Neurobiology of Addiction

Question 1

Scientific research has established that addiction to drugs is a chronic disease that has the potential for recovery. The addiction process involves three key stages, including intoxication, negative effect, and anticipation. When a person continues to use a drug, this cycle produces dramatic effects on the individuals brain functioning. Disruptions majorly occur in three areas of the brain, including the basal ganglia, prefrontal cortex, and extended amygdala (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration US and Office of the Surgeon General 6). These disruptions reduce the functioning of the brain’s executive system and reduce the sensitivity of brain systems.

Question 2

A neurotransmitter is a type of chemical messenger that transmits signals across a chemical synapse. Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, play a key role in the addiction process as they establish mood, desire, drive, motivation, and pleasure for an individual to use drug substances.

Question 3

The route of administration determines the rate of metabolism of a drug on its way into an individual’s blood system. Drug distribution depends on the blood flow to various parts of the body.

Question 4

Different types of drugs may affect a person’s body in various ways. The drug effects are dependent on various factors such as body size and the amount and strength of the drug. Drugs may have long-term and short-term effects on an individual’s body responses. These effects may include how an individual struggles to control his or her thoughts and actions. If an individual with drug dependence stops taking drugs suddenly, such a person will experience predictable and measure symptoms, such as an increase in blood pressure.

Question 5

The brain’s reward system supports an individual’s morals or disease model of addiction. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine present when activated at normal levels in the brain, they often reward an individual’s behavior. (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration US and Office of the Surgeon General 12). As such, dopamine often regulate an individual’s feeling of pleasure and motivation to use drugs.

Question 6

The disease model of addiction is sufficient enough to explain substance use disorders. Addiction to substance use often significantly impacts the brain, as well as, its functioning. Moreover, the model explains the maintenance and recovery. Physical and medical disorders are some of the consequences of addiction to substance use.

Question 7

Addiction paradox is a statement that leads to confusion in recovery from drug use. Such statements include surrender to win the war against drugs and give to receive. Some of the psychological factors that might account for the paradox of continued substance use are such as personality factors that may be related to the risk of relapse and mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Question 8

By binding to ganglion type nicotinic receptors in the adrenal medulla, nicotine increases the flow of adrenaline. By binding to the receptors, nicotine causes cell depolarization and an influx of calcium through voltage-gated calcium channels.

Question 9

It is true that e-cigarettes are a lower-risk alternative to conventional cigarettes as they have been found to contain ultrafine particles and known toxins such as toluene at much lower levels than those found in conventional cigarettes.

Question 10

Assessment of the overall risk levels between opiates and stimulants, as well as alcohol and marijuana, reveals that alcohol and marijuana have less severe symptoms as compared to opiates and stimulants (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration US and Office of the Surgeon General  20). The criteria I would use is to analyze how frequent an individual is engaged in substance use to determine the risk level of the drug to his or her health.

Question 11

Short-term effects of stimulants on the user include loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and increased blood pressure and heart rate. The long-term effects on the user include extreme weight change, paranoia, and addiction. Ritalin and other stimulants help treat symptoms of ADHD as they are believed to increase dopamine levels in the brain hence improving communication and activity in various parts of the brain.

Question 12

Short-term effects of marijuana include hallucinations, loss of sense of personal identity, and panic, among others. The long-term effects include impaired thinking and the ability to learn, potential development of opiate abuse, among others. Tolerance and withdrawal from the use of marijuana have less severe symptoms compared to other drugs such as cocaine.

Question 13

Short-term effects of hallucinogenic drugs include sensory effects such as hallucination, intensified feelings and sensory experiences, and physical effects, such as nausea, increased energy and heart rate. The long-term effects include paranoia, mood disturbances, and disorganized thinking. Hallucinogenic drugs do not show some kind of addictive patterns as other drugs like cocaine due to the low levels of toxins contained in such substances that can drive an individual to get addicted to using hallucinogens.


Work Cited

Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration US, and Office of the Surgeon General (US). “The Neurobiology of Substance Use, Misuse, And Addiction.” Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet]. US Department of Health and Human Services, 2016,