Good Alcoholism’s Biopsychology And Treatment Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Alcoholism, Alcohol Abuse, Alcohol, Treatment, Social Issues, Addiction, Drinking, Psychology

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/10/13


This study investigates the approaches employed in the treatment and biopsychology of alcoholism. The introduction section attempts to distinguish alcohol abuse from alcohol dependence in order to increase the understanding of alcoholism. The paper then focuses on alcohol dependence, which is synonymous with alcoholism. It explains that alcoholism is a manifestation of certain underlying traits that include genetic predispositions. Further, alcohol dependence is linked to particular conditions such as anxiety and depression. Under the methodology of biopsychology, the study explains that the effective treatment of addiction requires a broad examination of possibilities unrelated to the addiction. Thus, the understanding of alcoholism biopsychology can help in the elimination of addiction among the future generations. Finally, the investigation explores the various methods utilized in the treatment of alcoholism. It observes that heedful considerations should be allowed for the most fitting approach and the most likely to yield favorable impacts.


Most consumers of alcohol do not suffer adverse consequences. Individuals with excessive drinking patterns, nevertheless, have an elevated risk for alcohol-linked problems ranging from social to health issues. Alcohol abusers are a sub-population of alcoholic or alcohol-dependent individuals. However, the terms “abuse of alcohol” and “alcohol dependence” are dissimilar (Harford & Muthen, 2001). Consequently, alcohol abusers may drink excessively without being dependent. Moreover, alcohol abuse includes numerous outcomes and patterns while alcohol dependence or alcoholism involves specific diagnostic criteria (Harford & Muthen, 2001).The peculiarity between alcohol abuse and alcoholism is useful from the perspective of biopsychology and treatment. Thus, interventions applied to alcohol abusers may be inadequate for alcoholic individuals. Conversely, measures that address alcoholism are mostly unsuitable for the majority of alcohol abusers.
An understanding of the brain functions is crucial to understanding the addictive behavior. Although the brain has objective realities, the analysis of human behavior requires a subjective approach. Hence, the study of alcoholism requires a holistic approach in order to achieve full comprehension. According to the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) (2015), there are three methodological factors used to assess alcohol addiction. The elements are the reliability of the assessment technique, the episodic course of alcohol use disorders, and the heterogeneity of alcohol addicts. The history, methodologies, and pathways of alcohol addiction are complex. Consequently, they should be investigated in the background of biopsychology to enhance the understanding, as well as the treatment of alcoholism (ICAP, 2015).

Research Statement: The treatment of alcoholism requires an understanding of the alcoholism’s biopsychology

Research Objective: To explore the treatment and biopsychology of alcoholism
Alcohol Dependence
The idea of alcohol dependence or alcoholism as a distinct disorder began in the 1960s (Jellinek, 2002). Walters (2002) explains that in some individuals, alcoholism is a manifestation of specific underlying traits such as genetic predispositions. Usually, alcohol dependence is linked to conditions such as anxiety and depression. Alcohol dependence can also result from the social and cultural influences on an individual. Similarly, culture determines how the society views alcoholism (ICAP, 2015).
Alcohol dependence is among the substance-related disorders that often involve psychoactive substances. ICAP (2015) explains that the syndrome of alcoholism involves the cognitive, behavioral, as well as physiological phenomena, which follows a repeated substance use. Typically, alcohol dependence syndrome includes a strong need to take alcohol, persistence in its consumption despite harmful effects, and difficulties in controlling the urge to take it. Moreover, the addicts give a higher priority to alcohol intake than other personal obligations (ICAP, 2015).
Particular drinking patterns, such as the drinking repertoire narrowing, are characteristic of alcoholism (ICAP, 2015). Such patterns are rigid and remain unaffected by external influences. Consequently, considerations such as resisting the withdrawal symptoms drive the alcoholics’ drinking patterns. However, specific drinking patterns may induce alcohol problems that culminate in dependence. For example, heavy chronic drinking can cause physiological changes and, hence, induce alcohol dependence (ICAP, 2015).

Methodology of Biopsychology

Alcoholism has affected different societies, and every millennium has treated addiction problems with a unique methodology suited to the times. Throughout the history, societies have attempted to address addiction in various ways (Scheier, 2009). For example, the fear of the unknowns related to substance abuse led the various legal systems to send addicts to prison. In particular, the society shunned addicts and considered them as social misfits. Hence, the mental health infirmaries confined them in different institutions. Presently, however, the modality of treating addicts involves an attempt to assist them in their areas of need (Scheier, 2009).
The popular drug experiments of the 1960s raised specific questions that the Addiction Research Center’s traditional focus failed to answer (Smith, 2010). Consequently, the field diversified and decentralized giving researchers more pathways to choose. Eventually, research pathways in behavioral and psychopharmacology emerged (Scheier, 2009). Meanwhile, activities such as alcohol abuse occupied the streets and brought researchers into the community. Therefore, significant research areas, such as qualitative social study, treatment research, and epidemiology emerged (Scheier, 2009).
Each alcoholic is unique and responds differently to the treatment modalities. Thus, experts proficient in the issues of addiction should have adequate training in alternative and efficient treatments. Castel, Rush, Urbanoski, and Toneatto (2006) have shown that addictions are complex and overlap with biological disorders or mental health issues. Although the researchers’ methodology (Castel, et al., 2006) was strong, their screening tool increased the reported symptoms and failed to indicate such results as significant. However, their investigation (Castel, et al., 2006) has established an avenue for the future investigations in biopsychology. Such studies will illuminate particular points in the biological aspects of cross addictions.
The utilization of medication and behavioral therapy is a significant element of the overall therapeutic procedure, which involves detoxification, treatment, and the prevention of relapse. Relieving the withdrawal symptoms is important in the initial treatment procedure while preventing relapse is crucial to maintaining the effects of the treatment (Fitzgerald & McCarty, 2009). However, relapse episodes often require a return to the prior treatment features. Therefore, a continuum of care that involves a holistic treatment program is useful. Such programs address the aspects of an addict's life, including medical health services, as well as the follow-up options. In addition, the holistic treatment programs allow the individual to achieve and preserve an alcohol-free lifestyle (Scheier, 2009).
Studies in biopsychology have produced differing models and theories aimed at describing the factors that influence drug use. Edwards and Koob (2010) observe that the amount of literature on the field is impressive but overwhelming and contradictory. The focus of the present investigation, therefore, is to assess the prevailing state of alcoholism and treatment, and identify the knowledge gaps. Such a view provides an essential platform for deepening and broadening the scope of biopsychological investigation.
Since the history, pathways, explanations, and methodologies of alcohol addiction are complex, studying them in the background of biopsychology advances the understanding and effective treatment of the addiction. Nevertheless, many theories of addiction and its treatment are founded on different hypotheses, as well as self-reports. Consequently, the ability to understand and treat addiction requires competent clinicians who are willing to explore the possibilities that may appear unrelated to the addiction. Therefore, the understanding of alcoholism biopsychology will help to eliminate addiction among the future generations.

Treatment Strategies

Individuals diagnosed with alcoholism require an appropriate treatment that may include different methods. Careful considerations, therefore, should be given to the most fitting approach and the most likely to yield favorable impacts. In addition, the chosen treatment procedure should be compatible with a given culture. Hence, the effectiveness of the various approaches to treatment relies on the cultural setting and the prevailing societal perspectives on alcoholism. Typically, the administered treatment should allow the affected persons to recommence their normal functioning.
Different approaches to alcoholism treatment exist. Essentially, the strategies are divided into two categories based on the problem’s severity. The first group of treatment approaches addresses alcohol-dependent individuals while the second treatment strategy targets the non-dependent drinkers who are at an elevated risk (ICAP, 2015). The selection of the appropriate treatment depends largely on the severity of alcoholism. Thus, some individuals may require minor modifications in their behavior in order to address an emerging problem. In contrast, the alcoholics whose drinking patterns have established negative consequences require a relatively more intensive secondary, as well as tertiary treatment (ICAP, 2015).
According to Babor and Del Boca (2003), each of the various treatment approaches is appropriate for specific individuals and may be unsuitable for others. The methods include pharmacological treatment, support groups, and behavior modifications. The goal of some treatment methods is alcohol abstinence while other techniques seek to alter the drinking patterns. Approaches that alter the drinking patterns strive to establish a moderate drinking that is compatible with a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Irrespective of the final objective, most treatment methods include detoxification to reduce withdrawal symptoms, rehabilitation, and maintenance of the post-treatment state. Nevertheless, Kadden, Longabaugh, and Wirtz (2003) explain that the appropriate treatment strategy should be based on the particular aspects of a given case.
Typically, self-help groups promote abstinence from alcohol. Examples of such organizations include the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which was established in the US. Humphreys (2003) explains that the AA allows individuals to overcome alcohol cravings in order to achieve recovery. As a result, the AA members are encouraged to make a resolution of alcohol abstinence each day. Other similar organizations, such as the Croix Bleu, incorporate modifications appropriate for the different cultures (ICAP, 2015). However, a dominant approach in Southern and Central Europe involves the use of Clubs for Alcoholics in Treatment (CATs). The clubs, unlike the AA, are often incorporated into the social health system (ICAP, 2015). Moreover, the CATs depend heavily on the family, which they consider as integral to the success of the self-help group. Primarily, the self- and mutual- help programs are both residential, as well as non-residential organizations (ICAP, 2015).
Babor, Higgins-Biddle, Saunders, and Monteiro (2001) argue that early identification and intervention allows individuals to alter their problematic drinking patterns. In this approach, individuals can learn responsible drinking, particularly if the diagnosis occurs before the onset of severe drinking problems. Investigators have tested brief interventions across cultures and reported their effectiveness in reducing problematic drinking (ICAP, 2015). The methods have also successfully treated diverse populations, which include young alcoholics. Further, the approach is rapid, effective, and easy to administer. Hence, it can be implemented in the settings where resources are scarce (ICAP, 2015).
The community reinforcement strategy includes behavioral methods that back the individual in defeating alcoholism. The approach is most appropriate for the persons who experience alcohol dependence. In principle, the technique identifies the high-risk situations that contribute to the addict’s problematic drinking. Additionally, it endows the individual with problem-solving skills that aid in avoiding such situations. The skills may include marriage counseling, vocational training, as well as recreational activities. The patient also gains skills in avoiding relapse (ICAP, 2015).
In addition, aversion and psychological therapies are used to minimize problematic drinking habits (Parks, Marlatt, & Anderson, 2001). For example, the aversion therapy focuses on associating alcohol with negative contexts such as the nausea induced by certain medications. It may also include the teaching of social skills aimed at dealing with the stressors and the development of skills in controlling the alcohol intake. Psychotherapy is employed as a strategy for solving the common drinking problems, as well as alcohol dependence. Another common approach that eases alcohol craving and the symptoms of withdrawal is pharmacotherapy. According to Soyka and Chick (2003), the treatment drugs used in this approach include Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone.
The efficiency of the various treatment strategies has been assessed in the populations of individuals experiencing drinking problems and the persons with alcohol dependence (ICAP, 2015). According to the studies, the most successful techniques include motivational enhancement and brief interventions, followed by skills therapy and pharmacotherapy (ICAP, 2015). Despite their popularity, the different self- and mutual help strategies are often less effective. Moreover, the counseling approaches are the least effective methods of treating alcoholism (ICAP, 2015). However, many treatment techniques can be combined with others in order to ameliorate their overall effectiveness. Therefore, an alcohol problem should be identified and solved at its initial stages to enhance the success of the treatment process. Addicts’ relapse into earlier behaviors, nevertheless, remains the primary obstacle to the efficiency of treatment.


While alcoholism includes abusive drinking patterns, the condition is not interchangeable with the abuse of alcohol. In addition, not all alcohol abusers are alcohol dependent. As a result, the two terms require a clear distinction from the perspective of biopsychology, as well as treatment. Additionally, the most successful treatment techniques include motivational enhancement and brief interventions, followed by skills therapy and pharmacotherapy. Various studies have shown that self-help techniques are relatively less efficient in the alcoholism treatment. However, the effective treatment of alcohol-dependence should incorporate different methods to ensure a successful recovery.


Babor, T. F., & Del Boca, F. K. (Eds.). (2003). Treatment matching in alcoholism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Babor, T. F., Higgins-Biddle, J., Saunders, J. B., & Monteiro, M. G. (2001). AUDIT: The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. Guidelines for use in primary care. (2nd ed). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.
Castel, S., Rush, B., Urbanoski, K., & Toneatto, T. (2006). Overlap of clusters of psychiatric symptoms among clients of a comprehensive addiction treatment service. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 20(1), 28-35. doi:10.1037/0893-164X.20.1.28.
Edwards, S. & Koob G. (2010). Neurobiology of deregulated motivational systems in drug addiction. Future Neurology, 5(3), 393-410. doi: 2034674321.
Fitzgerald, J., & McCarty, D. (2009). Understanding attitudes toward use of medication in substance abuse treatment: A multilevel approach. Psychological Services, 6(1), 74-84. doi:10.1037/a0013420
Harford, T. C., & Muthen, B. O. (2001). The dimensionality of alcohol abuse and dependence: A multivariate analysis of DSM-IV symptom items in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 62, 150–157.
Humphreys, K. (2003). Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-step alcoholism treatment programs. In M. Galanter (Ed.), Recent developments in alcoholism. Vol. 16: Research on alcoholism treatment (pp. 149–164). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) (2015). 17. Alcohol Dependence and Treatment. ICAP. Retrieved from
Jellinek, E. M. (2002). Definitions of alcoholism: The disease concept of alcoholism. In D. F. Musto (Ed.), Drugs in America: A documentary history. New York, NY: New York University Press.
Kadden, R. M., Longabaugh, R., & Wirtz, P. W. (2003). Matching hypotheses: Rationale and predictions. In T. F. B. a. F. K. D. Boca (Ed.), Treatment Matching in Alcoholism (pp. 81–102). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Parks, G. A., Marlatt, G. A., & Anderson, B. K. (2001). Cognitive-behavioral alcohol treatment. In N. Heather, T. J. Peters, & T. Stockwell (Eds.), International handbook of alcohol dependence and problems (pp. 557–573). Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons.
Scheier, L. M. (Ed.). (2009). Multiple paths to partial truths: A history of drug etiology. The Handbook of Drug Etiology: Theory, Methods, and Empirical Findings. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Smith, D. (2010).The evolution of addiction medicine and its San Francisco roots. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 42(2), 199-201.
Soyka, M., & Chick, J. (2003). Use of acamprosate and opioid antagonists in the treatment of alcohol dependence: A European perspective. American Journal on Addiction, 12(Suppl. 1), S69–S80.
Walters, G. D. (2002). The heritability of alcohol abuse and dependence: A meta-analysis of behavior genetic research. American Journal of Drug Alcohol Abuse, 28, 557–584.

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