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Chapter 5

PSYC 328 Chapter 5: Chapter 5 Health-Compromising Behaviours

Course Code
PSYC 328
Barbel Knauper

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Chapter 5 Health-Compromising Behaviours
LO1 What are the Characteristics of Health-Compromising Behaviours?
Common characteristics:
oWindow of vulnerability in adolescence
Can lead to accidents for early death
Sometimes cluster together as a problem behaviour syndrome
But some, like alcoholism, may be special risks for older adults
oTied to peer culture
Imitate the peers they like and admire
Wanting to be attractive is important to adolescents
oBound up in the self-presentation process
Effort to appear sophisticated, cool, tough, savvy in the social environment
Image conveyed by these behaviours
oOccur gradually
Individuals are exposed to, becomes susceptible to the behaviour, experiments with it,
and later engages in its regular use
Not acquired at once, through a process may make different interventions important at the
different stages of vulnerability, experimentation, and regular use
oSubstance of all kinds is predicted by some of the same factors
High level of conflict with parents
Poor self-control
Might be coping mechanisms to manage a stressful life
oCommon profile of those who engage in substance abuse
Penchant for deviant behaviour, with low self-esteem, and with problematic family
relationships often show higher levels of these behaviours
Long hours of employment with school
Truer for non-minority students than minority students
Poor school performance, family problems, deviance, difficult temperament
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o Related to the larger social structure
More common in lower-social-class individuals
Associated with attitudes toward health
Greater exposure to the problem behaviour or more stressful circumstances
Practice of these health-compromising behaviours is thought to be one reason that social
class is so strongly related to most causes of disease and death
LO2 What is Substance Dependence?
American Psychiatric Association (2000): A person is said to be dependent on a substance when he or
she has repeatedly self-administered it, resulting in tolerance, withdrawal, and compulsive behaviour
Substance dependence can include
oPhysical dependence: state that occurs when the body has adjusted to the substance &
incorporates the use of that substance into the normal functioning of the body’s tissues
oPsychological dependence
Often involve tolerance
Characteristics are common to substance abuse involving addiction, which can include smoking, alcohol
consumption, and drug abuse
oTolerance: process by which the body increasingly adapts to the use of a substance, requiring
larger and larger doses of it to obtain the same effects, eventually reaching a plateau
oCraving: strong desire to engage in a behaviour or consume a substance
Seems to result from physical dependence and from a conditioning process  As the
substance is paired with many environmental cues, the presence of those cues triggers an
intense desire for the substance
oAddiction: occurs when a person has become physically or psychologically dependent on a
substance following use over time
oWithdrawal: unpleasant symptoms, both physical and psychological, that people experience
when they stop using a substance on which they have become dependent.
Symptoms vary, they include anxiety, irritability, intense cravings for the substance,
nausea, headaches, shaking, and hallucinations
Costs of substance abuse: burden to health care resources, law enforcement, and loss of productivity at
work and home due to death and disability
Different approaches to treating substance dependence
oHarm reduction: approach that focuses on the risks and consequences of substance use rather
than on the use itself
Increasingly used as an intervention strategy for dealing with substance abuse
Public health response to the substance abuse problem
In Canada: the model guiding our national drug strategy, and it has similarly been
adopted as a treatment strategy in other countries, including the United Kingdom,
Australia, and Germany
Philosophy that completely eliminating substance use in society is an unrealistic goal  it
is preferable to focus on reducing substance use to help minimize the social and physical
harm associated with substance abuse
Practical standpoint: may also be an effective strategy to initially promote safe substance
use before moving to interventions directed at complete cessation
Use of substances is not judged as something that is good or bad
Strategies like abstinence are viewed as only one of many possible strategies for dealing
with substance abuse
Most often implemented at the community level with community-based programs that
focus on facilitating safe use of substances
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E.g. Methadone maintenance, needle exchange  safe use of substances
Injection drug  host of social and health problems  increased crime, spread of
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, infectious hepatitis
Commonly implemented in urban centres
E.g. Insite  offer users a disposable injection kit and other sterile drug-use tools
to prepare and inject under the supervision of medical staff
Initial evaluations of the effectiveness of Insite are promising
o70% less likely to share needles, 35% reduction in fatal doses
Non-injection drug use is also an increasingly problematic issue  e.g. marijuana
oCanada is one of the leaders for consumption among industrialized countries
oEsp. among young adults
oUse of marijuana among youth age 15 to 24 in 2012 is about three times the national average
oRelated to a variety of health-compromising and risky health behaviours, + other social and
psychological issues
oAssociated with smoking, frequent and excessive drinking, having unprotected sex, and other
risky sexual behaviours
oThose who “toke up” are more likely to be dissatisfied with life, have negative attitudes towards
school, and have poor relationships with their parents
oWhy id marijuana use so popular among young people?
Acceptance as a social drug among adults – greater use and availability  perception as a
safe recreational drug
Most commonly used illegal substance in Canada
oBUT the misperception about its safe use are not well founded
More tar than cigarettes
Higher levels of some cancer-causing chemicals
Long-term use can lead to cognitive impairments and early development of schizophrenia
among those at high risk
It’s also addictive
Illicit Drug Use
oGlobal problem
Canada: 12 percent had used at least one form of illicit drug in 2008
o4 main classes of illicit drugs of particular concern due to addictive and harmful properties
Opiates (e.g. heroin)
Cannabis (e.g. marijuana)
Most widely used in the world - 119–224 million cannabis users worldwide
Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS; e.g., ecstasy)
oDrugs are considered to be psychoactive substances, like alcohol
Psychoactive substances: impact cognitive and affective processes and alter the way a
person behaves when ingested
oPsychoactive prescription drugs  growing concern
Diverted into the illicit drug market
Non-medical use of prescription drugs, is on the increase among young adults and
Sedatives and tranquilizers (such as Valium)
Opioid pain killers (such as OxyContin and Demerol)
Stimulants (such as Ritalin)
Majority obtained from home
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