Sunday, 8 June 2014

Learning Model of Addiction - Applied to Smoking

  Initiation    Maintenance    Relapse

According to this model, smoking is initiated through classical conditioning.
 An individual may have grown up in a family of smokers and seen how they respond to smoking; the craving and satisfaction. They may therefore be conditioned to respond to a cigarette in the same way, through associating it with pleasure, thus making them more likely to start smoking.
  According to the Social Learning Theory, smoking is initiated through 'vicarious reinforcement'. The person may have observed significant role models and seen how they respond to the pleasures of smoking, which may cause them to imitate the behaviour and therefore start smoking.
  Peer pressure might also influence someone to start smoking.
 Colleagues and friends might encourage a person to smoke, and wont stop until they finally do. Taking up smoking allows and individual to access a social network, which reduces the teasing they may have experienced when refusing a cigarette, therefore making them much happier.
  Bandura also proposed that observing a role model experiencing the pleasures of smoking may be enough for an adolescent to take up the habit.

  This idea has been supported by research from the NIDA, who completed a survey and showed that 90% of American smokers started as adolescents, and  this was mainly due to the observation and imitation of peers. This therefore supports the basic predictions of the social learning theory.
 Further supporting research comes from Winnett et al, who found that role models with higher social status are more likely to influence the observer's behaviour.
 Bryner also found that media images of smoking created a perception of it being attractive and 'ard, again supporting the role of the Social Learning Theory on the initiation of smoking.


  The maintenance of smoking can also be explained in terms of classical conditioning.

 The 'cue reactivity theory' suggests that addicts react to cues which make them want to smoke a cigarette, including lighters, matches, ashtrays and cigarette packets. 
 The pressure that people feel to take up and carry on smoking remains dominant throughout their smoking life; the people they mix with are often themselves smokers, which makes giving up even more difficult.
  In support of this, Ogden found a relationship between peer group identity and tobacco use in the USA, suggesting it is an important factor in the maintenance of smoking.


  The 'cue reactivity theory' is also important in the relapse of smoking behaviour.
 The pressures to return to the addictive behaviour are around smokers everyday. It may be that just seeing someone smoking a cigarette or even hearing the spark of a lighter to be enough to bring back familiar cravings for a cigarette. 

  In support of this, Shiffman gave a questionnaire to ex-smokers who had relapsed. It was reported that smokers were more likely to relapse if they were in the presence of other smokers or if cigarettes were readily available, supporting the basic predictions of the cue reactivity theory in relation to the relapse of smoking addiction.

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