Strengths and Weaknesses of the Psychodynamic Approach

How does your assigned theoretical viewpoint explain the causes of substance abuse, and what treatments does it recommend? What are some of the strengths or weaknesses of your assigned viewpoint?

In the readings, I have noticed that the psychodynamic approach to just about anything is very good at explaining the underlying problem, but is very bad at treatment. To that end, the psychodynamic view indicates that substance abuse can be caused by a lack of nurturing during childhood, which can lead to a substance abuse personality (Nevid & Rathus, 2005). Certain personality traits such as impulsiveness, being antisocial, and being dependant can lead to or may be caused by, substance abuse. Psychodynamic treatments for substance abuse center on the resolution of underlying needs and conflicts. The sociocultural view suggests that substance abuse is caused by peer pressure, stress, and economic problems. I can see how peer pressure, especially from within the family, can be a powerful influence on a person’s decision to abuse drugs. Out of the possible sociocultural treatments, I think that self-help groups are the most effective and community prevention programs are the least effective. Everyone was in D.A.R.E. during high school, but over half of my classmates would decry the evils of drugs at school and then spend the rest of the day after school getting stoned. However, I have witnessed some pretty impressive results from Alcoholics Anonymous.


Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new millennium (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.


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