Select Page


Models and Theories of Co-Occuring Disorders: Interactive Addiction Training Session


Live Interactive Training Session hosted by Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes.  Detailed instruction on participation will be provided upon sign up.  You will need high speed internet to be able to participate. You must attend live and participate to receive credit.  Plan on being available for the training for a 1 hour period starting at 12PM CST.

Contact Hours: 1

Text:  Models of Addiction.  Luxembourg: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.  Publications Office of the European Union, 2013


Explore the premise, strengths and weaknesses of the following theories:

  • Moral
  • Biological/Chemical
  • Behavioral/Learning Theory
  • Social Learning Theory
  • Cognitive Behavioral
  • Biopsychosocial

Addiction is a global problem that can involve ingesting licit and illicit psychoactive drugs (e.g. alcohol, nicotine, opioids, stimulants, steroids, prescription painkillers, sedatives or cannabis) or other kinds of activity (e.g. gambling, computer gaming). The science of addiction has advanced to a point at which it is timely to examine the wide range of underlying mechanisms that have been identified and assess what these imply for the development of a comprehensive strategy for combating the problem.  Definitions of addiction vary, but all involve the notion of repeated powerful motivation to engage in an activit acquired through experience with that activity, despite the harm or risk of harm it causes.

Current definitions capture important features of addiction, but they either focus on just one aspect of it or use terms that cannot be interpreted clearly. An overarching model of behaviour (the COM-B model, which recognises that behaviour arises out of capability, opportunity and motivation) can be usefully applied to understanding addiction.

Multiple addictions and co-morbidities can arise from mutually interacting processes. The presence of more than one type of addiction concurrently, and the combination of addiction and other psychological problems, can be viewed as arising from common aetiology in terms of capabilities, motivation and opportunities and from the way in which these interact with each other. For example, child abuse, leading to low self-esteem, can have multiple effects in terms of a lack of self-protective motives or even motives for self-harm as well as impaired skills for self-regulation, a need for relief from depression or anxiety and engagement with a subculture that provides opportunities for particular kinds of activity.

Learning Theory: Addiction involves learning associations between cues, responses and powerful positive or
negative reinforcers (pleasant or noxious stimuli).

Drive Theory: Addiction involves the development of powerful drives underpinned by homeostatic mechanisms.

Inhibition dysfunction theories Addiction involves impairment of the mechanisms needed to control impulses.

Imitation theories Addiction involves, or at least begins with, imitation of behaviour patterns and assimilation
of ideas and identities

‘Rational’ choice theories Addiction involves making a rational (in the sense that preferences are decided using
reason and analysis and then acted upon) choice that favours the benefits of the addictive
behaviour over the costs

‘Biased’ choice theories Addiction arises at least in part from the influence of emotional and other biases on the
process by which options to engage or not engage in addictive behaviours are compared

Goal-focused theories Addiction arises out of pleasure seeking or avoidance of distress or discomfort or, at least in part, out of identification with others engaging in the addictive behaviour. Prevention and promotion of recovery involves limiting access to the sources of these goals, reducing their reward value, meeting the needs in other ways or boosting the impact of conflicting goals

Acquired need theories: Addiction involves the development of physiological or psychological needs, as a result of
engaging in the addictive behaviour, which are then met by the addictive behaviour.