Social Learning Model of Addictive Behaviors

Social Learning Model of Addictive Behaviors

With any addiction, there are biological, psychological, and social considerations.  Social considerations include how we learn and what we observe in others.  We learn positive as well as negative behaviors from others through social interactions.  This means we can also learn about drugs and alcohol from others as well.  If we watch a parent drink alcohol, we may learn this behavior from watching them.  Social influences can include your co-workers and friends too as you get older.

Human nature involves learning from others and this unfortunately means we also learn about drinking and using drugs from others.  Even if your parents told you as a child that it is dangerous to use drugs, you may still form opinions or emotional reactions by watching others use drugs.

Social learning theory states that our environment is just as influential as genetics or psychological traits in the development of an addiction.  Observations of another’s behavior can also make us vulnerable to addiction.  The observations influence our behaviors and thoughts through a variety of ways.

Self-regulation involves our attitudes, beliefs, expectations, and perceptions of our environment.  We relate to the environment through our behaviors and this relationship can change how we self-regulate our future behaviors.  We also learn through modeling.  When we watch a parent or role model engage in a behavior such as drinking, we learn how to drink.

Expectations are also a part of social learning.  If you have an expectation that alcohol or other drug will have positive rewards, you are more likely to engage in the behavior of drinking or using drugs.  If you view yourself as capable of handling certain situations, you can influence change and even set healthy goals.  This is called having self-efficacy.  For example, if a parent was depressed and suddenly became happy with a drink or two, you might learn to equate the drinking of alcohol to a positive outcome such as happiness.  As you grow, you might begin to think that if you are feeling depressed, you should have a drink.

All of these factors can contribute to the development of an addiction.  These are not absolute, as many individuals can grow up with an alcoholic parent and not develop an addiction to alcohol.  Social learning theory describes one way in which an addiction might start.

If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, call Hired Power today at (800) 910-9299.  Regardless of how you learned the behavior, there are those that believe any behavior learned can also be unlearned.  Give recover a try and unlearn those unwanted learned behaviors.