Research Paper on Substance Abuse Disorder

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1501 Words
Date:  2022-05-12

Relevant History and Demographics

The assigned reading presents a grave alcohol dependence situation. Kirk is forgetful and does not give his family attention because of his long dependence on alcohol. He first tasted alcohol when he was in high school. By then, his consumption was not heavy. On weekends, they could team with friends, grab a few beer cans, and hang out in the park. Later in the night, he could sneak back home when his parents were already asleep. Upon joining college, Kirk carried along his drinking habits. He joined a fraternity that stayed out of college. The boys in the group were not moderate drinkers, and some even exceeded Kirk's alcohol consumption. Further, there was a free flow of alcohol. In most cases, the fraternity would party randomly every time they would get the opportunity. The fraternity made Kirks drinking habits to increase. Despite his drinking habits, no real problem occurred to him. He even managed to complete college and graduated with a bachelor's degree in business.

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A few months later, Kirk got married to Michelle. Unlike him, Michele was not a habitual drinker and only enjoyed occasional drinking. Her intake was equally light. She was aware that Kirk drank heavily though she did not give it much focus. Kirk was a loving husband, and Michele believed that he was responsible. As years went by, Kirks drinking became heavier. He would consume close to 12 bottles a day. Michele started to feel that this was now growing a problem. One day when Michele was out, he never washed the dishes or even made the kids change in their night dress. Though, since Kirk is successful at work, she gave the issue little interest. One scenario would change things. After doing their tax for about three hours, the couple went to bed feeling happy about each other. The next morning, Kirk bewildered Michele by his question. He wanted to know when Michele could make time so that they can work on their taxes. Michele thought that this was a joke but realized Kirk was serious. He was even surprised when Michele showed him the paperwork from the previous day. It is here that it dawned on Michele that Kirk's drinking habit made him experience memory loss problem.

Relevant Symptoms

Casual observation of Kirks situation points at him suffering from either alcoholism, addiction, or substance abuse disorder. However, from the symptoms he depicts, substance abuse disorder is the most likely condition. Substance abuse disorder is when the unceasing and prolonged use of a drug leads to a clinically significant impairment in daily life or conspicuous distress (Schuckit, 2009). Kirk has been drinking from a time when he was still young in high school until today. Just like any other psychological problem, a biopsychosocial perspective can explain Kirks condition and symptoms. In the first place, the biological symptom that Kirk experienced is a high tolerance to alcohol. Schuckit futher asserts that for someone to be diagnosed with alcohol abuse disorder, he must depict some symptoms that include excessive consumption of alcohol than what he intended. Schuckit also explains, tolerance is the buildup where individuals will require more copious amounts of a substance like alcohol to attain the anticipated effects. Instead of drinking only on weekends as was his plan, Kirk began drinking daily to the point that he was averaging about 12 bottles a day. Regardless of this huge consumption, he was still functioning at work and home.

Second psychological symptom displayed by Kirk is his automatic craves and urges to drink. Psychological aspects usually intermingle with the social stressors that over a period turn out to be triggers of drinking as the concept of classical conditioning avows. The anxiety and depressive moods, accrued from work-related events and marriage are negative reinforcement. Alcohol serves as an avenue through which Kirk could get momentary relief from such negative reinforcement. On the same note, another symptom is a failure to stop consumption with several botched efforts to control one's use. The body is conditioned, and alcohol becomes a form of relief from any stressor so in the event Kirk would experience any stressor, his urges to drink would reoccur. At last, the other symptom is the continuous use of alcohol despite the health problems it causes. This is mostly in the domain of mental health. The psychological problem may include blackouts. Kirk continued his drinking despite blacking out on one occasion.

Diagnosis and Diagnosis Discussion

The last social symptoms that Kirk displays include spending a good deal of time in getting the drug of choice. On every occasion including lunch hours, Kirk would drink alcohol. Unlike the regular one or two bottles to wash down food, Kirk would drink a lot and even take whiskey during the short time. In short, Kirk would be drinking any moment he is not at work. Another symptom is that people who have substance abuse disorder tend to neglect some duties or responsibilities. When his wife leaves him to look after the kids, he leaves them to watch cartoon till they doze off on the couch. Kirk does not even consider having the kids change in their pyjamas. Instead, he spends the time drinking. Also, his constant drinking is making his wife to contemplate divorce. Substance abuse disorder makes people give up on activities in their life such as loving their wife.

In the light of the symptoms discussed above, some diagnostic criteria can be used to check Kirk's condition. It is significant to indicate that there exists no endorsed diagnosis of alcohol abuse disorder. However, in relevance to Kirk's situation, the DSM-5 criteria is applicable. In the DSM-5 method of diagnosis, there are 11 symptoms of substance abuse listed. Individuals are diagnosed as having alcohol use disorder and classified as a mild, moderate, or severe (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The severity of the disease is mild when the person has two or three symptoms, moderate if they have four to five symptoms and severe when there is a presence of six plus symptoms. Kirk already displays more than six signs including tolerance, the urge to keep drinking, and anxiety disorders just to mention a few. Subsequently, Kirk's condition can be categorized as severe because he depicts more than six symptoms.

On the same note, the ICD-10 criteria is applicable here. In this method, harmful use of alcohol is diagnosed if there are at least three of the common symptoms of drug dependence. These include a sense of compulsion to drink, difficulties in quitting, psychological withdrawal state, evidence of tolerance, neglect of alternative pleasures and eventually persistent use of alcohol (Thygesen, Christiansen, Christensen, Lash, & Sorensen, 2011). It stands out clear that Kirk displays more than three of these symptoms, so he has alcohol dependence disorder.


There is some treatment that can work in correcting Kirk's alcohol use disorder. The first one is the SORC method. SORC is an acronym that stands for stimulus, organism, response, and consequences. In this case, the stimulus is the external situations; the organisms are the thoughts or emotions, response is the drinking and consequences are the positive or negative results (Fromme, 2011). The SORC model arranges all the chain of events related to the drinking problem. These events are charged gradually without overwhelming the victim. In this case, the doctor will reduce alcohol intake slowly to the point he never drinks again.

Medical treatment such as the administration of disulfiram is equally applicable in this case. Disulfiram is Antabuse drugs that cause unpleasant symptoms to the body whenever a patient consumes alcohol (Amuchastegui, Amuchastegui, & Donohue, 2014). The symptoms can include nausea, vomiting or skin flushing. A person will be sick for some time because of drinking. Knowing the potential side effects can make Kirk desist from drinking.

Ultimately the best and most effective method is behavioral therapy. In this case, a health care professional is involved in counselling to help change behavior. Riper et al (2014) states that Cognitive-behavioral treatment identifies the feelings and situations that lead to drinking. Consequently, the patient is taught on how they can cope, manage stress, and develop thoughts to make them not drink. The reason this can be effective is that in some events, family members are involved hence the patient is watched more closely.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Pub.

Amuchastegui, T., Amuchastegui, M., & Donohue, T. (2014). Disulfiram--alcohol reaction mimicking an acute coronary syndrome. Connecticut medicine, 78(2), 81-84.

Fromme, D. K. (2011). Behavioral Interventions. In Systems of Psychotherapy (pp. 105-135). New York, NY.: Springer.

Riper, H., Andersson, G., Hunter, S. B., Wit, J., Berking, M., & Cuijpers, P. (2014). Treatment of comorbid alcohol use disorders and depression with cognitivebehavioural therapy and motivational interviewing: A metaanalysis. Addiction, 109(3), 394-406.

Schuckit, M. A. (2009). Alcohol-use disorders. The Lancet, 373(9662), 492-501.

Thygesen, S. K., Christiansen, C. F., Christensen, S., Lash, T. L., & Sorensen, H. T. (2011). The predictive value of ICD-10 diagnostic coding used to assess Charlson comorbidity index conditions in the population-based Danish National Registry of Patients. BMC medical research methodology, 11(1), 83.

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Research Paper on Substance Abuse Disorder. (2022, May 12). Retrieved from

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