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Self-medication Hypothesis Essay

According to the self-medication hypothesis (SMH; Khantzian,1985). The individuals’ choice of a particular drug is not accidental or coincidental, but instead, a result of the individual’s psychological condition, as the drug of choice provides relief to the user specific to his or her condition. Specifically, addiction is hypothesized to function as a compensatory means to modulate effects and treat distressful psychological states, whereby individuals choose the drug that will most appropriately manage their specific type of psychiatric distress and help them achieve emotional stability. Alcohol use may relieve anxiety, for this reason alcohol consumption is reinforcing particularly when consumed in stressful condition. Drinking can improve mood and social adjustments, remove stress and burdens. As stated to the SMH the choice of a particular drug is a result of the individual’s psychological condition, socially anxious people might be expected to use alcohol as a coping action in try at self-medication and to manage their anxiety.

Based on the Drive Reduction Theory (Clark Hull, 1943) the reduction of drives is the primary force behind motivation. In his theory, Hull used the term drive to refer to the state of tension or arousal caused by biological or physiological needs. A drive creates an unpleasant state; a tension that needs to be reduced. In order to reduce this state of tension, humans and animals seek out ways to fulfil these biological needs. Drive theory is based on the principle that organisms are born with certain psychological needs and that a negative state of tension is created when these needs are not satisfied. Drinking alcohol is a way for socially anxious people to reduce their anxiety, so every time they will engage to a social situation they will use alcohol for conditioning and strengthening. As Hull suggested, humans and animals will then repeat any behaviour that reduces their drives.

Based on Decision theory every action at least implicitly represents a decision under uncertainty: in a state of partial knowledge, something has to be done, even if that something turns out to be nothing. Even if you don’t know how you make decisions, decisions do get made, and so there has to be some underlying mechanism. The said theory states how people with social anxiety decide. They decide to use alcohol to reduce their anxiety, to handle with the symptoms or to try to get away from it. Since alcohol has a soothing effect and produces a sense of thrill and decreased shyness apparently providing relief from anxiety.


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