Scientific Theories

Much of the scientific theories surrounding motivation and the motivation toward certain behaviors fell into the realm of studying the brain. Even today, much of brain remains a mystery, constantly being re-mapped and seen as a marvel of not only human character but also evolution. Orbitofrontal Cortex remains an area of interest when studying the organic nature of science of motivation toward addiction. According to London et al. , “the OFC is places in a position to code the motivational attributes of responses to stimuli.

It is the heterogeneous region that has connection with prefrontal, limbic, sensory and premotor areas (p. 334). In other words, it is the information center that responds to sensory perception and stimulus from the outside world. By understanding what happens in this area of the brain, researchers can better understand why people behave in certain ways toward outside stimulus. It is thought that all drive toward behavior begins here, in this center of control. It is here where the idea is born based upon the relationship between compulsive drive and reward.

This relationship when studied specifically in drug addicts has found a proven link to craving the reward. London et al. , discusses with respect to decision making is “based on the motivational attributes of the stimulus and the balance between expectation of immediate reward and long-term losses, is an important aspect of substance abuse behavior” (p. 334). In layman terms, when weighing the pros ands cons of the situation in relation to behavior, the addict only sees the short-term reward of the feeling of bliss.

Saah’s work also finds biological relationship between the behavior of addiction and environmental influences that creates a predisposition toward such behavior. Saah’s work has found that this biological proof can be found in “both ancient origins probably evolving before the phylogenetic splits of vertebrates and invertebrates” (par. 4). It is this deviation that makes human behavior so different from that of any other animal on Earth.

It is also Saah’s thoughts are that because of this slow evolution and split, that the human body has not evolved completely to remain competitive within the modern world. We are still looking for primitive ways to deal with physical issues like addiction because our bodies do not know better, have not been programmed for such stimulus (pars. 5 and 6). We are weak to temptation. Other studies done by Harvard Medical School have found a direct relationship between the senses and addiction (Research sheds light on eating disorders, compulsive gambling and drug abuse, par.2).

It seems the more the modern world exposes people to earthly delights and make them more desirable in taste, smell and texture; the harder it is to resist response to the stimulus. This falls again within the realm of the frontal cortex relationship with motivation. With the early introduction of plant chemicals (smoking) into the evolutionary process at 40,000 years ago, Saah also believes that while the human body is not prepared for physical addictions today, that human emotional intelligence is higher than first thought (pars. 5 and 6).

While we are physically and mentally prepared with the biological reaction of ‘fight or flight’ and negative emotions associated with such elemental, primitive behaviors, there are also many positive emotions found within the human collective evolution. The power of love, family and ritual; all born out of the need to celebrate life. These actions can be directly attributed to personality and environment (Adams, 2003). Of course, the need primitive need to protect the personality and one’s surroundings should outweigh one’s biological need for stimulus.

But this is exactly what happens in humans when it comes to addiction. They are willing to lose all the positive emotions for the physical ‘fight or flight’ (London et. al, 2000). This just goes to show how intricate the human being is and how fragile we really are. These findings only reiterate how complex the issue of addiction can become and as studies show in non-human subjects that “repeated drug use causes disruptions in the brain’s highly evolved frontal cortex, which regulates cognitive activities such as decision-making, response to inhibition, planning and memory” (Carpenter, par 2.).

Despite this relationship, many recent studies have found that depending on the drug of choice, every human react differently to the drug and his or her addictive tendencies (Saah, 2005; Venner, et al, 2006; Carpenter, 2001). This in turn offers ways in which society can aide addicts in seeking the help they need. Once one can pinpoint the reason for such behavior, treatment can be more effective and carry out its purpose. The ability to see addiction is not only a physical problem but also an emotional one helps people understand the motivation better (Saah, 2005).

It should not stand as an excuse of such behavior and addicts in recovery should always be treated as someone constantly in the process of recovery (Adams, 2003; London, et al, 2000). Motivations Specific to Gender and Age Along with obvious scientific evidence found in biological studies and key archaeological findings, there are also distinct motivations for drug addiction specific to gender and age. We know that addicts are motivated by reward, the escape from modern traumas and on some level, punishment.

Adams’ study found that more teenagers or young adults displayed more motivation toward substance abuse because of personality traits. The reasoning behind these findings stem from “response patterns for normal personality variation as well as development of personality and behavioral disorders and the individual’s ability to adapt to novel, appetitive and aversive stimuli” (par. 2). Clearly younger humans do not have the strength of personality to combat the pressure of stimuli constantly bombarding them in our culture.

Adams hypothesized that the older the addict grew, the less the pressure would influence the behavior unless the draw to remain immature was too strong and continued through enablement. Addiction has grown more prominent because of the stresses found in society. Teenagers and younger adults fall prone to this behavior because they lack the evolution of biology and personality. Conclusion The purpose of this research was 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 was to examine these foundations for motivation.


Adams, J. B. (2003, August). Relationships between personality and preferred substance and motivations for use among adolescent substance abusers. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Carpenter, S. (2001, June). Cognition is central to drug addiction. Monitor on Psychology, 32, 5. Definition of Motivation. Retrieved March 7, 2007 from the World Wide Web: Franken, R. E. (1994). Human Motivation, 3rd ed. California: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. Gustafson, T. (2007, March). Anonymous Quote. Our Daily Bread. March 12, 2007 Devotional.