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The Human Motivation of Drug Addiction

The purpose of this research is to examine human motivation with relation to drug addiction, a very negative human behavior. It is one that cannot be seen as a goal to strive toward as a means of success. However, discuss the concept with any addict or addict in recovery and they will be the first to admit that any means necessary to bring about the high will be taken to reach that place. It is thought that addiction concerns a certain personality type because of the behavior exhibited. It is just another rationale to absolve ourselves of any guilt regarding addiction.

However, literature found in the research of this paper has found many theories surrounding the reasoning or motives toward addiction and that the behavior is an equal opportunist (Franken, 1994; Moore, 2007). Many turn to science as a foundation but research suggests that when it comes to the matter of addiction; motivation toward the behavior is founded not just in genetics or scientific proof but also societal cornerstones of value systems like religion and ethics. The purpose of this paper is to examine these foundations for motivation. Motivation Defined

One can look to history, society, religion, and even science to figure out what motivation means to humanity. The best way to start such research is to look to language for a definition. After all, it is through language that all messages are received, synthesized and then understood. WordReference. com offers the definition of motivation as: the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior; “we did not understand his motivation”; “he acted with the best of motives (par. 1)

With this in mind, how is that drug addiction can be considered a goal? With this definition in mind, one can consider that the addiction or rush would give an organism the purpose and definitely the rationale for such behaviour but that being said, one can also take the opinion that a drug addict at the beginning of life wants to attain the goal of being addicted. Aside from being under the influence and being in the party mode, what does the addict serve to gain? At a point of origin, what motivates the addict? Is it pure science or desire to rebel against society’s constructs and systems of value?

Motivation can be a complex issue for anyone to ponder when looking at groups of people as a myriad of personalities (Motivation, 2005). Many different things motivate people and influence their behaviors in everyday life (Franken, 1994). Why do they do what they do? What motivates one child to be a doctor or lawyer, while another is an artist or actor? Are there factors woven into their DNA; pure genetics that make them who they are; drives them to be a certain personality, or is it clear cornerstones of value systems introduced early on in life that makes a person?

That motivates that person toward certain behavior? A good person will work to understand what motivates each individual. As discussed in Project One, there is Maslow’s Theory of Needs, which applies not only to business practices but suggests that individuals have a range of needs and will be motivated to fulfill whichever is the greatest need at that moment in time. In this construct, there are lower-order and higher-order needs (See Figure 1 below). The lower-order needs are dominant until they are at least partially satisfied. Figure 1.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (Robbins, 2001, p. 156) Maslow predicts a normal person will turn their attention to higher-order needs once the lower ones are taken care of (Motivation, 2005, par. 3). Lower-order needs include items like making a living for food and shelter while higher-order needs are more in tune with personality such as esteem and worth. How does Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs apply to society standards and behaviors outside of the business world? I believe this theory acts as a springboard to understanding any behavior as it applies on a general level.

However, much the higher and lower needs concept does not compute with the average drug addict. The need is like air or water for many and they are to disregard all other needs to attain that rush. So in principal, looking to Maslow only offers as research a start into understanding the drug addict’s motivation. We must take a long range view of motive, motivation and what makes a certain personality tick. We must look to theories found in religion, ethics, science as contributing segments of society as demonstrated in research done by experts in the field like Franken, Robbins, and Adams.

We can also look at more specific factors found in research literature such as gender and age for addiction. Theories Found in Religion and Ethics as Building Blocks of Society Much of the notion of ethics begins with value systems inherent in people. Part of the challenge any person faces is being able to bend his or her values with that of each individual’s value systems defined by culture, religion, race, gender and society. It is almost an impossible task and complex as Nina Smith, et al suggest, “one of the aspects of good.. governance is.. diversity” (2005, p.2).

Instilling any value system begins with representation. The difference between right and wrong must be directly communicated as a clear and vital mechanism; a cornerstone of society. Many see rules, laws and codes of ethics as something to be bent, to mold for his or her success. Some cultures and societies are founded on this pursuit that anything is possible. Still this type of behavior has a way of catching up to people. Some people see this as creative thinking, liberal lifestyles and the fast pace of partying. This is how they rationalize such behaviours.

Much of ethics, codes of conduct, rules and laws come from the moral structure in which an individual is raised. The structure of these ethics and laws come from a religious foundation or belief system. In today’s age of anything goes, many people do not have this type of moral value system in place but we will explore it as a construct into how religion, specifically Christianity can be a double-edged sword with regard to addiction. So much is written about drug addiction in relation to Christianity. Mostly God’s word in the footsteps of Jesus speaks to addicts as a means of finding salvation and quitting the addiction.

After all, the Twelve Steps are loosely based on a Christian dynamic of the Higher Power. From the Our Daily Bread Devotional, Anonomus writes: Today pull up the little weeds, The sinful thoughts subdue, Or they will take the reins themselves And someday master you. (Gustafson, March 12, 2007) This speaks directly to the mind of the addict or anyone battling a crisis. The Bible discusses how as humans we cannot hide from God with our human behavior. “God won’t be mocked is strategically centered in the context of reaping what we sow. We can’t fool Him by hiding our inner motive” (Moore, 2007, p.77).

Moore implores that God will hold us (humans) accountable to want we have done. That it is indeed the fight between His goodness and Satan’s evilness where we fall to motive. Satan invented sin in all forms to distract humans from our true goal of serving good. Moore has interviewed many addicts mainly of alcohol and has persisted in asking why. Why lose everything—job, family, love and other material possessions for the addiction. What many have told in confidence is because they felt like it. They liked how it made them feel or more importantly, what it didn’t make them feel (Moore, 2007, p.81).

What Moore thinks goes wrong and what motivates the addict to do drugs are deformed desires. The Bible writes that “Your Law is within my heart” meaning that knowing right from wrong begins and ends with God. What happens with drug addicts is that the desire overpowers the law. The predisposition toward drug abuse blinds people. Satan is relying on people’s weakness and this in itself motivates, gravitates toward bad behavior.

Moore discusses the amount work and falling from God’s word that must happen before “God reshaped..disfigured desires and somewhere along the way, God’s law transferred from the stone tablets to soft tissue of the heart” (2007, p. 83). Part of what motivates the addict past God’s Law is trust. They do not trust in His love. Much of this theory is bounded in humans as a culture needing to place blame or reasoning somewhere and therefore, blaming science or genetics. It is not my fault, God’s fault, my failure to belief in the order the builds society; it’s my family or my make-up that motivates me. Research suggests as the following paragraphs will explore; this is somewhat true. As humans, whether it is values or genes, we are all flawed.

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