Problems of Behavioral Deviance and Addiction

Introduction

The definition of behavioral deviance has changed a lot in the society of the modern world in comparison with the society of several centuries ago. People extended the borders of behavior norms and morals in many aspects. Unfortunately, this extension led to many side effects, such as different types of addiction, and behavioral deviances that became significant problems facing modern society. The questions arise as to what reasons of people’s deviant behavior and addictions are, and what the norms of behavior are. The standards of behavior are relative, and they vary from culture to culture and from a person to person. Many people have different opinions on what the deviant behavior is. Some types of action can be normal for one person, but can be completely disgusting and unacceptable for the other one. However, addictions cause social problems very often. Addicted people cannot function properly. Driven by the desire to get satisfied by a substance or an action of their addiction, such people are often unsociable and they cannot concentrate on doing their work. 

Addictions, as well as behavioral deviance, are very often caused by various factors such as searching for pleasure and so on. Very often, misbehavior, especially among teenagers, is caused by different psychological and sociological problems. The same applies to addictions. Burdened with problems, people often try to escape from reality rather than solving and overcoming their problems. They start taking drugs, alcohol, and become sex- addicted for the sake of getting the illusion of relief from their problems. This work will discuss different types of behavioral deviance, various addictions, their possible reasons, and impact on workplaces. For the better understanding of the nature of an addiction, neurobiological mechanisms of addiction are to be discussed.

Literature Review

Deviant behavior can be often caused by an addiction. For example, drug and alcohol addictions can be the reasons for such crimes as robbery and murder. These violent actions can be identified as deviant behavior by anyone, but such aspects of human behavior as an adolescent sexual activity, cybersex, and pornography addictions can be seen differently by various people. The relativity of deviance is brightly described in the book Routledge Handbook of Deviant Behavior, edited by Clifton D. Bryant. The editor states that deviance is a relative concept, and it depends on time, place, and circumstances (Bryant, 2011). He says there is seldom general agreement in regard to who and what type of behavior can be considered as deviant, and to which extent it poses harm or problem to society (Bryant, 2011). In his book, Bryant used the works of Kathleen Bogle and Diane Kholos Wysocki. Both authors described different types of addiction and argued the deviant behavior.

In her chapter of Bryant’s book, Kathleen Bogle (2011) discusses premarital adolescent sexual activity and addiction. She claims that sexual addiction has become a problem of modern society, which rises from the sexual liberation of the twenties century (Bogle, 2011). She states that the youth is the part of society that is affected by the sexual liberation most of all, and, as a result, it is the most addicted (Bogle, 2011). The author points out the changes in the sexual behavior among young men and women prior to marriage (Bogle, 2011). The author reports that the average age of marriage is 26 for women and 28 for men; however, the majority of youths are involved in sexual relationships since adolescence (Bogle, 2011). Young people are engaged in a new type of sexual behavior so called ‘hooking up’. Such a relationship consists of meeting someone, sometimes even a stranger, and getting involved in a physical encounter with no romance. Quite often, such behavior results in sexual addiction (Bogle, 2011).

Another problem of the modern sex behavior is cybersex. Diane Kholos Wysocki (2011), the author of the chapter “Cybersex, Computer Sex Addiction, and Cyberpornography”, discusses the relatively new forms of sexual deviance made possible by computer usage. The author points out that computers were not invented for any erotic purpose (Wysocki, 2011). Nevertheless, once they were connected to the Internet, people soon discovered the variety of computers’ functions. The Internet opened up the door of the new sexual experience for the public, which varies from the retrieval of online pornography to connecting to other people and sharing sexual fantasies. Wysocki (2011) acknowledges that about sixty percent of internet visits involve sexual purposes. 

She discusses some of the advantages of online sexual activities. One of them is anonymity. People can share their wildest sexual fantasies with each other without any boundaries and fear of being identified. It leads to sexual liberation. Unlike in real life, if someone is not happy with somebody’s thoughts or fantasies, one can choose another partner with just one click of a computer mouse.

 

Online sex, as any other similar activities, is often addictive. The author says that despite the fact that it starts as an entertaining activity, online sex often takes over people’s lives, and they might completely lose control over the practice (Wysocki, 2011). She explains the reasons for this addiction. Some individuals often use online relationships to find the way to cope with the problems, stress, anxiety and escape from the boredom. They often feel wanted, important, and powerful in the virtual life. The more people devote their time and energy to the online sex relationship, the less they become interested in face-to-face relationships. Wysocki (2011) states that cybersex is as addictive as drugs and alcohol. Sometimes, individuals might lose perception of time and reality and, as a result, lose their jobs and families. 

Addictions have a powerful effect on the brain. This effect manifests itself in three main ways such as longing for a subject of addiction, uncontrollable use of it, and continuous usage of it despite its possible side effects and consequences. In their work “Neurobiological Mechanisms for Opponent Motivational Processes in Addiction”, Professor George F. Koob and Michel Le Moal (2008) describe changes in the brain of addicted people and their deviant behavior from scientific point of view. They claim that drug and alcohol addictions are chronically relapsing disorders characterized by a compulsion to look for an object of addiction and take it. After some time, addicted people lose the control of limiting intake of it. The other characteristic feature of alcohol and drug addiction is a negative emotional state such as dysphoria, anxiety, and irritability (Koob & Moal, 2008). The prevented access to an object of addiction often causes panic and aggression among addicted people. 

Even though drugs and alcohol cause the worst addictions, there are many others things in the modern world that can become a reason of addiction. For a long time, people have used to believe that addiction could be caused by nicotine, alcohol, drugs, and the Internet. However, recent researches and technologies have demonstrated that some activities like shopping, gambling, and sex affect brain in the similar way to nicotine, alcohol, and drugs. Donald L. Hilton and Clark Watts (2011) published the results of the recent studies, showing that such actions as sex might cause addiction and deviant sexual behavior. They point out that sex is the source of the same addiction anatomical changes in the brain as drugs and alcohol. The authors explain this similarity with the natural reward pathway in the brain, which is why humans seek pleasure (Hilton & Watts, 2011). 

There are different reasons why people become addicted to one or the other thing or action. It depends on circumstances and surroundings of people. In their work Personality and Addiction Processes, Natalie Castellanos-Ryan and Patricia J. Conrod (2013) describe different traits of personalities implicated in addiction and casual pathways to addictions. They state that personality plays a significant role in the development and course of addiction (Castellanos-Ryan & Conrod, 2013). According to Castellanos-Ryan and Conrod (2013), addiction is often caused by such factors as inhibited domain and inhibited domain. The first one includes negative effects, hopelessness, and anxiety sensitivity. The second consists of such characteristics as impulsivity and sensation seeking (Castellanos-Ryan & Conrod, 2013). In their work, the authors show how these factors contribute to the development of addiction. 

Different types of addiction cause various deviance behaviors and they might cause some serious problems in social and private lives of addicted people. In the work Drug Misuse and the Work Culture, Susanna Galea and Hamid Ghodse (2005) discuss the problem of addicted employees and their negative effect on a company development. They state that the problems of drug and alcohol abuse by people have become an economic burden of modern society (Galea & Ghodse, 2005). The authors demonstrate different aspects of the societal issues and their impact on the workplace. 

In addition to causing problems for themselves, addicted individuals might become the reasons of financial losses of companies they work for. Galea and Ghodse (2005) explain their claim by providing the facts that addicted people often miss work due to the sickness absences. Addicted people are not able to perform well at their work places. Such addictive substances as alcohol and drugs can quickly change the mental state of individuals. These substances change behavior, level of consciousness, judgment ability, cognitive function, concentration ability, and coordination, resulting in adverse effects on work performance and safety. The authors show the problem of the dependence of the earning and alcohol consumption levels. They state that the more people drink, the less they earn (Galea & Ghodse, 2005). Consequently, the lower their income is, the more they drink. 

Discussion

Unfortunately, the modern technological progress has increased tension and stress in people’s lives. Economic development and opportunity to buy different commodities in credit looks very attractive from the first glance. However, on the other hand, it has a significant impact on people’s psychological state. Men and women have to work more and spend less time with their families and children. They live with fear of losing their jobs, but when they are not able to pay their debts, they lose everything eventually. The tension of the modern life makes people very stressed and, as a result, long for some reliefs. Many people try to forget about problems and escape from reality. They become involved into different types of activities, and very often, they become addicted to some of them.

Any addiction has a great effect on people’s behavior and function. It affects mood, work efficiency, and sometimes can even destroy relationships and families of addicted people. Some people find their relief in gardening, reading, and different sport activities. However, many people try to decrease the tension by drinking, gambling, engaging in deviant sexual behavior, and using drugs. The illusion of relief from such activities often makes people addicted to them. Statistic shows that about twenty three millions of Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol (Thombs & Osborn, 2013). Eventually, these people get even more stress then they used to have. They add problems with relationships and health to the already existing issues.

The question arises what the reason for people to look for the stress relief in the harmful activities is. The answer is very clear from biological point of view. Nevertheless, there are others aspects of life that influence people’s perception of relief. One of them is propaganda of alcohol, sex, and drugs through media. People get affected from the early childhood by the different, at the first sight, innocent movies, and programs. It is often possible to see in movies that after accomplishing a difficult task or solving a problem, a protagonist, who is a positive character, gets a drink. Another scenario occurs when people gather to discuss something important. With the discussion getting intense, they drink to decrease it. Various scenarios in the different movies and programs demonstrate that drinking is good for the stress relief and increasing of mood. Such image of alcohol gets to children’s subconsciousness. Without realizing this, children, without begin associating alcohol with fun, relaxation, and adulthood. These associations frequently lead to alcoholism among children.

Many modern comedy movies and TV series demonstrate how funny and stupid people act after smoking or sniffing some drugs. Despite parents often telling their children that drugs are very bad and harmful, they already have the information on the subconscious level that drugs bring fun and they are not dangerous and addictive if they are not taken often. Consequently, such information might play a significant role in future decision to try drugs.

The media wildly promotes gambling and sex. In some movies, children might see how people win a fortune in casino. It is obvious that children start seeing gambling as an opportunity to have fun and become rich quickly and easily. The same way media innocently advertises sex without even showing anything. It became a common plot in the movies and TV series when a girl meets a boy and while they still hardly know each other, they have sexual relationship. Popular songs and music videos openly promote sexual deviance. Such a picture gives children an impression that having sex with a stranger is normal, and sex is the most important thing in the relationship. 

Thus, when children grow up, they already have some ideas about alcohol, drugs, gambling, and sex imposed by the media. When they become adults, they often follow these ideas, and unfortunately, many of them become addicted to harmful activities. These are some social reasons of addiction. However, there are many other reasons of its development.

Castellanos-Ryan and Conrod (2013) describe some of the psychological factors that play significant roles in the development of additional behavior. In addition to the genetic factor, they define such factors as negative affect, hopelessness, and anxiety sensitivity. People often develop an addictive behavior because of the effect on their emotions. While people experience the emotional pain of loss, feel hopeless, they are anxious or overstressed, they often start using drugs, alcohol, gambling, and getting involved into deviant sex to numb the pain and enhance their mood. They get temporary relief, hoping that pain will go away permanently. Unfortunately, it does not, and people want more relief, but next time, they need more alcohol, drugs, or more intense sex to numb out the pain. Gradually, people become addicted and cannot stop even after the pain or stress is gone. They cannot enjoy their lives without an object of their addiction any longer. Consequently, the intensity of behavior, or amount of a substance required for enhancing the mood becomes dangerous because of the possible overdose or liver failure. When it comes to deviant sexual behavior, it becomes a threat for a primary relationship and job loss, increases risk of getting HIV, or other sexually transmitted diseases.

Castellanos-Ryan and Conrod (2013) point out other factors such as impulsivity and sensation seeking. They associate impulsivity with deficit of reflectiveness, problems with planning, decision-making, and acting; they state that it is a risk factor for the development of antisocial and addictive behavior (Castellanos-Ryan & Conrod, 2013). Quite often, impulsive people make decisions spontaneously without detailed planning and thinking about it. It might lead to negative consequences and disappointments and result as relief and looking for comfort. Sensation seeking is associated with lack of love and care. It makes people feel lonely, and they sometimes start look for sensation in the wrong places, which increases the risk of getting involved in deviant sexual behavior.

According to Castellanos-Ryan and Conrod (2013), addictions have different pathways. The most significant of them is reward pathway. It disposes that people who belong to a sensation seeking group or a group with similar traits will likely get involved in additive behavior due to motivation by their positive reinforcing properties or for sake of increasing their positive mood (Castellanos-Ryan & Conrod, 2013). 

Seeking for reward and pleasure is a moving power of different types of addiction. Hilton and Watts (2011) determine addiction as a chronic illness that has a negative effect on the brain structure and its function. The changes in the brain begin with identification of pleasure and end with a drive toward satisfying addiction. The brain reacts to different sources of pleasure equally whether it is alcohol, drugs, a monetary reward, tasty food, or a sexual encounter (Hilton & Watts, 2011). The brain responds to pleasure by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, which is a cluster of nerve cells (Koob & Moal, 2008). 

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Alcohol, drugs, sex, and some other addictive activities cause a powerful release of dopamine into the nucleus accumbens (Koob & Moal, 2008). The probability that the use of an addictive substance or activity will lead to addiction directly depends on the speed and the intensity of dopamine release. The faster and the more intense it is, the more addictive a substance or an activity is. For example, addictive drugs overfill the nucleus accumbens with dopamine (Koob & Moal, 2008). The hippocampus memorizes the periodic satisfaction, and the amygdala makes a conditioned response to certain stimuli (Koob & Moal, 2008). 

After some time, the brain gets used to the amount of the substance or activity that brings pleasure and starts looking for more. This brain’s response leads people to increasing dosage of drugs, alcohol, or makes the addictive behavior more intense. Eventually, people get so addicted to a substance or an action that they cannot live without it anymore. Certainly, it affects all aspects of their private and social lives. 

Alcohol and drugs addiction among employees might cause financial issues for business and industry. Statistic says that drug and alcohol abuse costs the United States an estimated sum of $276 billion a year (Thombs & Osborn, 2013). It has a significant impact on the way of how a company, factory, or store operates and functions. There is no surprise about such high cost because addicted people cause many problems for their employers and co-workers.

One of the problems is the sickness absences. Alcohol and drugs affect health drastically. They affect immune system and make people more vulnerable to different infections and viruses. They also have negative impacts on brain function and structure, heart, liver, kidneys, and blood circulation. Another reason for is the sickness absences is impossibility to get to work due to the sickness from drugs or alcohol poisoning and withdrawal. 

Increased level of fatalities and injuries is another problem of addicts, which affects their working ability. Due to the changes in such people’s brain function and structure, their reaction to exogenous irritant slows down and they cannot respond quickly enough to the possible danger. Problems with coordination can also become one of the reasons of fatalities and injuries.

Lack of focus, inability to concentrate, restlessness, fatigue, mood changes, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and bone pain, headache, and dizziness drastically reduce the level of addict’s work productivity. Some drugs usage may cause anxiety disorder, delusions, depression, and increase the risk of schizophrenia development, which will lead to inability to work. Drugs and alcohol abuse decreases the ability of planning and decision-making, which reduces the working performance of addicted individuals.

Addicted people usually have low morals and working ethics. It is typical for addicts to disappear from the work places to look for substance of their addiction. Some of them use or obtain drugs during work hours, which might cause serious problems for them and those who surround them. Sometimes, they get involved in selling illegal substances to other employees. Moreover, they are not able to cope with the environment. Due to the regular craving for a substance and lack of finances, addicted individuals are often involved in crimes like theft and robbery, sometimes even at their work places. They often borrow money from friends and colleagues but seldom, if ever, give it back.

Driven by the need to satisfy their addiction, these individuals live lonely and miserable lives. They usually avoid friends and colleagues. Their mood change, permanent irritation, aggression, depression and blaming others in their problems make addicts unpredictable and unpleasant. As a result, people around such individuals start avoiding them. Certainly, such deviant behaviors cannot be tolerated, and addicts frequently lose their jobs, which leads them to more desperation and depression.

Another type of addiction is caused by deviant sexual behavior. Even though this type of addiction does not cause as much harm to health as alcohol or drug abuse, it still creates some problems and affects people’s productivity. Kathleen Bogle (2011) raises a problem of sex addiction and deviant sex behavior. Sexually addicted people, as well as substance addicted ones, experience problems with focusing and concentration at work because their mind is occupied with desire to satisfy their addiction. They might experience problems with communication due to the increased interested to the opposite sex. It is typical for such people to experience such deviant behaviors as compulsive masturbation, exhibitionism, compulsive sexual episodes, voyeurism, and compulsive sexual episodes, which might be evident at work places. Sometimes, sexual addiction may lead to sex harassment at a work place and further problems with law. Sexually addicted people may damage company’s reputation by sexually deviant behavior towards customers or co-workers. 

As well as substance addicts, sexually addicted people often experience loneliness and misunderstanding. They also experience mood change, irritation, and depression. Once their colleagues discover their problems, the majority of them would start avoiding addicted people. As a result, addicted people become antisocial, and it might lead to another form of sexual addiction - cybersex and pornography. Individuals addicted to such activities frequently get distracted with cybersex and pornography at their work places. The fear of being caught might drive them to avoide other people and make them irritable and frustrated.

Conclusion

Addicts might balk at attempts to encourage serious introspection and self-assessment of their behavior. This response can reflect a value structure that elevates social relations, fun, and amusement over rational self-control and serious self-understanding. These conflicts are crucial issues that affect all areas of life. Addicts cannot function and perform properly at their works and they usually lose their jobs, houses, and families. Untreated addictions cause some serious problems with health and often become fatal. 

Due to the sexual liberation and media propaganda of sex and easy access to sexual activities and pornography, addiction to sex has become a difficult and destructive issue of a modern society. It destroys relationships and causes jobs losses, it may lead to arrests, and it affects individuals’ self-esteem and physical health. Sex addiction is not only a moral problem but also a disorder of incapability to control feelings and behaviors, which has psychological and neurological factors.

All types of harmful addictions are often caused by people’s reactions to different circumstances and problems. If people pay more attention to each other’s issues and problems in lives and become more caring and sympathetic, the amount of addicted people will be significantly reduced.

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Jul 11, 2019 in Socioligy
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