chapter  13
34 Pages

Anxiety Sensitivity and Substance Use and Abuse

Behavioral models maintain that substance use and abuse are learned behaviors. The most widely researched behavioral model is the tension-reduction hypothe­ sis (Conger, 1956), which proposes that states o f tension (anxiety, fear, conflict, or frustration) are aversive motivational states and drug consumption is a rewarding activity because it reduces such states (Cappell & Greeley, 1987). The tension-reduction hypothesis includes two central postulates. First, alcohol and other drugs are capable o f reducing tension. Second, substance-induced tension reduction serves to increase the likelihood o f future drug use through the operant learning mechanism o f negative reinforcement (Cappell & Greeley, 1987). Due to inconsistencies in the experimental support for each o f these postulates, reviews have been quite pessimistic about the utility o f the tensionreduction hypothesis as a global explanation for all drug use behavior and substance disorder development (Cappell & Greeley, 1987; Poherecky, 1991; Wilson, 1988). Criticisms leveled at the traditional tension-reduction hypothe­ sis include its: (a) failure to consider motivations for drug use other than tension reduction, (b) failure to recognize that different drugs have different effects, (c) relatively narrow definition o f tension, (d) failure to consider the situational context in which drug use occurs (e.g., relaxed vs. stressed state; in anticipation of, or following, stress), and (e) failure to consider relevant cognitive and individual difference variables (Cappell & Greeley, 1987; W. Cox, 1987; Poherecky, 1991; Wilson, 1988).