The Motivational Functions Occurring in Addictions


Compare and contrast the motivational functions occurring in physiological and behavioral addictions. Be sure to illustrate with an example of each.

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My mother tried to quit smoking once. I was fifteen. She had headaches so bad that nothing would take them away. She couldn’t stop shaking. She sweated profusely at all hours of the night. There were times when she couldn’t think straight when her own thoughts did not make sense to her. She had been smoking from the time she was 13, back when the Surgeon General told everyone that cigarettes were good for them. She made it three months without smoking, got past most of the withdrawal symptoms and then I hurt myself playing football. I was fifteen. I tore my spleen wide open. I was in a hospital bed immobilized for two weeks. Then had to spend 6 months in bed at home. She got past all of the physical problems, but she started smoking again when I got hurt. It was the relief of stress that caused her to go back to them. She hasn’t been able to quit since. 

About three years ago I started running. At first, I could only run a hundred yards before I felt like someone was stabbing a sword through my left side. It took me a full year before I could even run one mile. I lost weight steadily and gained muscle. After a year and a half, I was running two miles a day, every day. Six months ago I decided to go to four miles and start pushing myself to go faster. The first week I broke the 2nd and 3rd metatarsals in my right foot, stress fracture. I was on crutches for almost two months and have been in a supportive boot for 4 months. Of course, I have not been able to run at all. Running was a way to relieve stress, exercise, lose weight, and have some alone time. I saw the results of my running, I lost 80 pounds, and pushed myself too hard, too fast. 

With my mother, it was the moderation of stress that brought her back to cigarettes. She was able to overcome the physical withdrawals, but when life happened her old habits of stress moderation took over. I was motivated to run in order to lose weight and exercise. When the motivation to run went too fast for my body to keep up, my body broke. Motivation is at once one of our greatest strengths, but it can become a weakness. 

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Deckers, L. (2005). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental, Second Edition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. 

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