Module 5: Psychological Theories of Addiction

Ch. 3: Addiction and Cognition

Our next reading is a more advanced article discussing the intersection between the neurobiology and psychology (cognition) aspects of substance use. This is a research review article by Gould, T.J. (2010) called Addiction and cognition from Addiction Science Clinical Practice, 5(2), 4-16.

The article begins with a brief review of some of the content you learned in Module 2 and in Module 3 & 4 about addiction and the neurobiology involved (p. 4-5). The content new to you, beginning on page 5, discusses cognitive effects of acute drug administration. This content examines evidence related to how starting to use a drug might affect the formation of drug-stimulus associations (learning theory). This information has great relevance to what you are learning about cravings and the power of these learned associations to trigger relapse in a person attempting to quit using substances. The new content continues with a discussion of cognitive deficits associated with chronic drug use (p. 7). The author describes some of the cognitive impairments that come about from using certain types of drugs over a prolonged period (consider the relevance to information processing theory). The author also discusses some of the cognitive effects we might expect to see during abstinence and early recovery from a substance use disorder. Pay attention to the box on page 8 of the article called Learning in the Mind and Brain—the bullet point about how newly learned material becomes established in long term memory relates directly to information processing, too. Next (on p. 9), the author addresses how drugs affect brain development—an extension of some of the content you read about in Module 3 & 4 concerning prenatal and adolescent exposure. Finally, the relationship between drugs of abuse and mental illness is examined (p. 10). This topic we will discuss in more detail in our final course module (Module 14).

In this (information dense) chapter you will read about:

  • how the biology of substance use relates to cognition and cognitive processes;
  • how learned associations form that might relate to craving triggers;
  • some of the cognitive deficits associated with chronic use of certain substances;
  • some effects of substance exposure on the developing brain/mind; and,
  • how substance use might interface with mental disorders.

PDF links icon

Click here for a link to our Carmen course where you can locate the assigned pdf file(s) for this chapter. You will need to be logged into our Carmen course, select Module 5, and proceed to the Coursework area. Under the Readings heading you will find a box with links to the readings for relevant coursebook chapters. Don’t forget to return here in your coursebook to complete the remaining chapters and interactive activities.


After reading, please try this self-check activity–there are 4 questions to click on and aswer.


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Ch. 3: Addiction and Cognition Copyright © by Audrey Begun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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