Drug-Addicted behaviors under Psychodynamic-Perspective






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Drug-Addicted behaviors under Psychodynamic-Perspective

Mr.Phaitoon Sangpoom Office of the Royal Development Projects Board


Understanding and studying about factors that influence a person to get involved with drug is a very important and considered a basic knowledge for people who provide assistance both direct and indirect to drug addicts. Such knowledge will make them feel more confident in working and providing assistance based on integration of correct knowledge and existing information. Efforts put for this will receive most effective outputs and outcomes.

“Psychology” is a set of learning which will help all types of related officers to understand deeply and widely about “factors leading a drug addiction” in all aspects such as thoughts, behaviors and expression including mental, social, and personality conditions of a person. In addition, psychology also helps the officers to understand themselves which is a good beginning in helping others.

Therefore, it would be good if the officers can review themselves as they might have forgotten or never have some knowledge of some areas in psychology. They should quickly fill up such missing or forgotten knowledge, so they can increase efficacy of their working performance. It is the fact that working comprehensively must integrate psychology and other kind of knowledge. However, psychology is considered a basic knowledge that helps the officers understand about situations happening through a person. Psychology is a set of variety kind of knowledge which gives different perspectives of how to understand “a person”. Through such knowledge, the officers will be able to understand about complicated behaviors of drug addicts and will provide the most suitable supports to them.

First perspective that the writer would like to present here is considered a classic and contemporary one. Since, no matter how long it exists, but its concept is still up to date. It is called “Phychodynamic-Perspective”.

Beginning of Psychodynamic-Perspective

Defining “Addicted Behavior” was clearly made by Sigmund Freud who initiated a study of human’s behavior and personality by using science process. Sigmund Freud, a founder of such perspective generated many concepts of how to deeply explain about human’s behaviors. Those concepts are such as Conscious VS Unconscious, Personality’s structure (Id, Ego, Superego), and Personality development. The personality development comprises of 5 phases of seeking happiness driven from different sources: Phase 1: Oral Phase 2: Anal Phase 3: Phallic Phase 4: Latency Phase 5: Genital


Apart from that, “Defense Mechanism” is another perspective by Sigmund Freud which has been used widely to understand human’s behaviors.

Freud’s perspectives are priceless, because many psychologists were motivated by those perspectives to further study and develop new perspectives for the purpose of helping human, especially in term of mentality.

Psychodynamic-Perspective and Drug Addiction

Many types of drug treatments are also influenced by Psychodynamic-Perspective of Sigmund Freud. About 1650s, first study for drug addiction’s behaviors was for male who were addicted to alcohol. Then expansion of the perspective was made to other target groups both for male and female who were addicted to other types of drug such as heroin, tranquilizer, and amphetamine. Freud considered that there was an

importance of difference between female and male in term of basic element of addiction, addiction’s process, quit of addictive drugs, and relapse process. Focus of such study believed that “Differentiation” between types of drugs is key factor leading to changes in behavior, personality, and life progression differently.

Drug Addiction’s treatment and Psychodynamic-Perspective Study’s development of the perspective

At the beginning, the perspective focused on instincts, drive, and unconscious of human leading to drug behaviors. In 1954, Sigmund Freud stated in a letter sent to Wilhelm Fliess that what human is addicted to in basic level is “masturbation”. Then to avoid feeling of “guilty” caused by masturbation, human will compensate such addiction by using drug such as morphine or alcohol.

Such finding by Freud was an origin of one word “Repetition Compulsion” which is very important to psychology circles. Freud also gave inspiration to others to study on “Self-Punitive/Self-Punishment” after he announced his finding that gambling

addictive behavior was performed to compensate hidden masturbation behavior. Later Rado (1920-1950), a psychoanalysis reviewed all existing documents related to psychodynamic perspectives to explain such above situation.

“Drug addicts want to have no weak feeling inside, therefore, they will compensate such feeling by using drug or alcohol which will give them fun and joy. ?

An important finding by Rado was that real meaning of using drug is to compensate the feeling of pressure inside. Such compensation creates happiness and later creates needs to use it again.

Apart from Rado, other psychoanalysis also found other perspectives and theories to explain drug addictive behaviors as below:

• Use drug to seek satisfaction by oral

• Use drug to reduce inappropriate emotion status before leading to unsecured mental status

• Use drug to seek happiness and satisfaction

• Use drug to reduce anxiety or unhappiness happened inside

• Use drug to compensate a feeling of lack of self-value and self-assured • Use drug to handle pain and manage self to be responsible to outside world


• Use drug to eliminate a feeling of hate inside • Use drug for covering deficiency and instability

Characteristics of drug addicts by psychodynamic perspectives

Drug addiction is caused by inappropriate analysis of three personalities below which lead to instability of Self-Care, Self-Regulation, Self-Soothing, and Self-Evaluations. Such instability will later lead drug addictive problems.

1. Unable to differentiate self-emotional status including think negative and get panic for the future.

2. Low self-esteem including high self-defense and unable to join real thoughts and expectations together.

3. Lack of well-enough thoughts and decisions to make including limited to find ways to manage improper self-status.

Other psychoanalysis also discovered findings about factors leading to drug behaviors, those are:

1. Drug behaviors are caused by family. For example, family members are addicted to drug or inappropriate style of raising and interaction between family members. Study by Spotts and Shontz (1980) found that people who are addicted to amphetamine usually come from family with mother who is very strict and bossy and father who is follower. While people who is addicted to heroin, will have father who does not pay enough attention to the family and always express his anger to the family.

2. People with “relying on” personality to others will allow others to have influence on them. These people will care about relationship between themselves and others rather that self-development.

3. Although study about “Genetic and Environment leading to drug addictions” is just begun, but there was an interesting note by Cadoret (1986) explained that drug additions are related to three factors 1)Having parents with behaviors against to the society 2)Having parents who are addicted to alcohol and 3) Having family with problems related to divorce or dysfunction mental status. Two important types of psychodynamic perspectives related to development between two ages have been concluded are development of childhood and teenager facing problems and grow up into adult with drug addiction behaviors.

Picture 1: Threeimportant factors leading to drug use of children and youth

1. Genetic: It is indirect involved with inappropriate emotion, behaviors against to the society, and emotion’s pressure as well as feeling of panic for

uncontrolled situation.

2. Experiences happened during child age: When children encounter with uncontrolled situations, they will create specific characteristics. Such

situations are such as problems when delivered, low attention paid, abandoned by parents, died parents/siblings, not bear enough to pain, sexual harassment both physically and mentally, extreme super ego or no super ego, too high or be kept away from life expectation, and weak personality.

3. Experience happened during teenagers: During the period, people will face situations that they cannot handle or control them like they faced during child age. However, it will be more complicated as it is more involved with social matters. Those involvement are such as inappropriate learning, family with


problems, be punished not allowed related to sex, lack of value or self-moral, be responsible for something in appropriate time, lack of disciplines or too strict and surrounded by people using drug.

Three factors leading to drug addiction of children and youth are on one condition if a person lacks of appropriate and enough learning, skills, and management, it will lead a development into adult that has high potential to become drug addicts as explained in the picture 1 below


Direct Indirect

Emotion Behaviors against society

Pressure and panic

Experience happened during child age Problems when delivered

Low attention paid Abandoned by parents or died parents or siblings Weak personality

Too high or be kept away from life expectation Social and

religious transmission

Not bear enough to pain Sexual harassment both physically and emotionally

Extreme or no super ego

Experience happened during teenager

Inappropriate learning Family with problems Be punished or not allowed related to sex Lack of value or self-moral Be responsible for something in appropriate time Lack of discipline or too strict Surrounded by people using drug

Lack of appropriate and enough learning, skills, and management


Picture 2: Six factors leading to drug use during adult age, those factors are relying on status, power, psychology, gender, unable to bear to what happens, and family system. Those are different as explained in picture 2 below:


Advantages and development of psychodynamic- perspective Advantages of psychodynamic

In term of prevention and problem solving related to drug, the officers have gained advantages using such perspective by understanding about problems and causes that make a person become drug addict. Additionally, the perspective also pointed out the important things about how experiences happened in different ages have reflects on different kinds of abnormal personalities related to drug behaviors as explained below:

1. Antisocial Personality Disorder: This kind of personality is usually seen among drug addicts. Most of drug addicts have a high tendency to have this personality combined with others. The Antisocial Personality disorder can be divided into 2 types which are a person whose personality has primarily this disorder before using drug and a person who use drug and his/her personality become antisocial later.

2. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A person with this personality does not understand others and he/she create a wall between him/herself and others. On the other hand, he/she wishes to receive acceptance and respect from others. 3. Borderline Personality Disorder: It is a personality combined between mental

and nervous disorders. A person with the personality will express their abnormal behaviors such as repetitive behavior, unsecure emotion, and inappropriate other expressions related to his/her image. Those behaviors are clearly connected to reasons of drug use such as 1) unsecure emotion and relationship with others 2) unable to control anger and manage things 3) inappropriate response and 4) hurting oneself.

4. Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder: This personality is usually seen among drug addicts. However some stated that it is not considered a

personality, it is only self-defense. Most of people with this personality will not be able to communicate or express their true needs/wishes directly, because they are confused of themselves and lack of self-confidence when they encounter outside situations.

Helping drug addicts who have variety kinds of personalities in both horizontal and vertical patterns will require different ways to supports, especially for the

personalities related to drug behaviors. Therefore, helpers will need to have basic knowledge about personalities of each person to provide different kinds of supports. Integration of psychodynamic perspective into works related to drug matters To work effectively according to the perspective, there are three levels of supports provided to drug addicts which are Individual Therapy, Group Therapy, and Family Therapy as detailed below:

Individual Therapy Three stages are divided:

1. Achieving Abstinence: At this stage, it will focus on “Assessment” by finding as much as information in every aspect of drug addicts during child and teenager ages such as school, work, and other basic information, interactions between them


and family/friends/others, experiences of drug use/stopping,

types/methods/quantity of drug used, reasons for entering into drug treatment, and physical and mental epidemology examination Such information will be used to understand truly about nature of each drug addict.

With understanding about the above information, service providers will need to create motivations for drug addicts to collaborate in the treatment. Since, working effectively is based on the fact that “achievable treatment first originates from client’s needs that want to make changes”. At this stage, service providers must point out “disadvantages” of using drug towards themselves and people around them, reasons for stopping drug, and advantages from drug treatment. After clients are willing to attend the treatment, the most important thing is that clients and service providers must collaboratively set up treatment’s plan to enable clients to have a clear target about what will happen during the treatment. Such plan will need to be regularly reviewed and adjusted to go along with changes that will happen to the clients during the treatment.

2. Early Recovery: Apart from providing mental therapy as well as creating supports to clients to maintain drug abstinence, at this stage strategies related to cognitive-behaviorism are used for the purpose of continuous maintaining of drug


3. Advance Recovery: This stage is very important as it is a stage of creating new personality of clients. However, clients must receive intensive mental therapy before. At this stage, it aims to help clients to be able to create relationship and trust to others as well as to be independent at the end. The new personality is expected to be a long term result.

Group Therapy and Family Therapy

It is a tool in merging drug addict’s individual into a process of group therapy. Group therapy will help drug addicts as below:

• Reduce feeling of loneliness and increase level of understanding that he/she does not live alone. However, he/she has friends who face similar situations like him/her.

• Makes clients feel supported in quitting drug and feel secured to what have changes.

• Create hopes for changes by modeling from a person who has achieved in quitting drug and has a better life.

• Help clients to learn through self group’s monitoring which provides supports in term of thoughts and behaviors.

• Receive information related to strategies to use for prevention of relapse as well as learn how to use necessary sources for quitting drug.

• Try communications with group’s members before interactions with people outside.

Group Therapy and individual therapy share similar steps and objectives of the therapy, however, using group’s power will increase efficacy of the therapy and make clearly changes.

Apart from group therapy, in the area of using group’s power to help drug addicts, family members are brought into the treatment called “family therapy”. It can be divided into 2 types as below:


1) Multiple-Family Group Treatment: It is clearly mentioned about its

effectiveness if it is used in the hospitals or treatment places where require “staying over night”. The treatment will bring about 10-15

family/communities members of drug addicts per 40-50 drug addicts into the treatment by dividing into small group as appropriate.

2) Couple Groups: 2 types are divided as below a. Parents of drug addict and drug addict b. Husband and wife or lovers and drug addict

Methodologies used for group therapy are such as family education, allowing family to involve in the therapy, restructuring internal communication in the family. Conclusion

Information related to psychodynamic-perspective as explained above is only some part of the whole perspective. The most important point of the perspective is how to understand behaviors, thoughts, and feeling of drug addicts including understanding about reasons for drug use that involved socialization by family and surrounded people.

Therefore, as each addict has different reasons of drug use which reflect on different personality and drug behaviors, supports including techniques and treatment

methodologies given must be appropriate for each drug addict.





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