St. Louis Psychologists and Counseling Information and Referral                  

Home                            About Us                         Contact Us                       Website Map








Substance Abuse






Substance abuse:


Is it our way of












The Freudian







Other Popular




Topics of Interest:


Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol Treatment

Alcohol Use and Abuse: An Introduction

Alcohol Dependence, Abuse and Intoxication

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol Induced Anxiety, Sleep & Sexual Disorders

Alcohol Abuse: How do you assess a problem?

Alcoholism Gene Factors Show Up in Very Young

Drug Treatment






Drug Abuse


Treatment Choice

Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Women

Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Adolescents and the Elderly

Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Alcohol Abuse: Matching Treatment With Individuals

Website Map/All Articles


Substance Abuse From the Freudian View


How would therapists describe substance abuse from the psychodynamic or Freudian view?

substance abuseSubstance abuse would be described according to psychodynamic (Freudian) theory from a developmental perspective. Psychodynamic theorists believe that people vulnerable to substance abuse have powerful dependency needs that can be traced to their early years. They claim that when parents fail to satisfy a young child’s need for nurturance, the child is likely to grow up depending excessively on others for help and comfort, trying to find the nurturance that was lacking during their early years. If this search for outside support includes experimentation with a drug, the person may well develop a dependent relationship with the drug which then leads to substance abuse.

Some psychodynamic theorists also believe that certain people respond to their early deprivations by developing a substance abuse personality that leaves them particularly prone to drug abuse. Personality inventories and patient interviews have in fact indicated that people who abuse substances or depend on drugs tend to be more dependent, antisocial, impulsive, novelty-seeking, and depressive then other people. These findings are correlational, however, and do not clarify whether such personality traits lead to substance abuse or whether drug use causes people to be dependent, impulsive, and so on.


Substance abuse study of men and rats:

To better establish causation on issues of substance abuse, one longitudinal study measured the personality traits of a large group of nonalcoholic young men and then kept track of each man’s development. Years later, the traits of the men who developed alcohol problems in middle-age were compared with the traits of those who did not. The men who developed alcohol problems had been more impulsive as teenagers and continued to be so middle-age, suggesting that impulsive men are indeed more prone to develop alcohol problems. Also, in a laboratory investigation, “impulsive” rats (those who generally had trouble delaying their rewards) were found to drink more alcohol when offered it than other rats who were judged to be less “impulsive“.

A major weakness in this line of reasoning is that a very wide range of personality traits have had a high correlation to substance abuse and dependence. Different studies, in fact, refer to different “key” traits. Inasmuch as some people with a drug addiction appear to be dependent, others impulsive, and still others antisocial, researchers cannot presently conclude that any one personality trait or group of traits, stands out as a main factor in substance-related disorders.

In summary, the psychodynamic theory has provided a developmental view which may be helpful in understanding some of the specific traits which have been found to correlate with the abuse of alcohol and other substances. However, overall, this theoretical perspective has not provided much assistance in the everyday treatment of substance abuse.

By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate (Health Psychology)

Information from Abnormal Psychology by Ronald J. Comer

Recommend this Page on Google Plus 

Web Psychtreatment.Com
Mental Health Diagnosis - DSM-IV Diagnosis and Codes: In Alphabetical Order and Popular Psychiatric Medications

Popular Psychiatric Medications:











Ads by Google

Copyright © 1999    [].    All rights reserved.   Revised: March 14, 2013     636- 300-9922