PSYC699 AMU WK2 Substance Use in Youth with Disabilities: Understanding It’s Developmental Effects on Predicting Life Course Trajectory


In need of a 250 word response/discussion to each of the following forum posts. Agreement/disagreement/and/or continuing the discussion.

Original forum discussion/topic post is as follows:

Last week we discussed the four courses you selected as the foundation for your Integrative Project Literature Review. This week, post your areas of interest, each of which must be based on one of your four selected courses.

Forum post #1

Theme of Choice – Substance Use in Youth with Disabilities: Understanding it’s Developmental Effects on Predicting Life Course Trajectory

The overall theme that I am choosing to discuss for my Integrative Project Literature Review is substance use in youth with disabilities; specifically understanding the developmental effects (emotional, physical and socio-emotional) on predicting life course trajectory. I primarily chose this as my theme because I work with special needs students at the middle school grade level. In approximately the last three years that I have worked with middle school special education students, I have seen several students come and go into the Juvenile Justice System. It is not only a result of their disability but for some it is a direct consequence of the emotional disturbances they have endured and/or a direct result of an intellectual disability, developmental disability or other disability. It is heartbreaking when you see youth make bad choices so early on in life, but it is especially devastating when it is youth with disabilities. Each stage of development is critical in their physical, mental and socio-emotional growth

The subtopics that I want to discuss are the risk factors of substance use (comorbid disorders), genetical, biological and psychological causes, impact of life events/substance use on physical, mental and socio-emotional development and its effects on life course trajectory and, how attitudes and beliefs guide behavior.

Substance Abuse and Addiction – PSYC620 – Risk Factors of Substance Use

The area of interest in this course is identifying the risk factors. A major component of comprehending substance use disorder is having an in-depth understanding of the risk factors that an individual is exposed to. The risk factors can include individual risk factors, peer-related risk factors, parental family risk factors and other risk factors. It is also essential to understand the presence of co-occurring non-substance related mental disorders (comorbid disorders). It provides perspective on how specific disorders present in childhood can predict early use of substances.

Psychopathology – PSYC526 – Genetical, Biological and Psychological Causes

In this course the area of interest is understanding what causes SUD mainly from a biological perspective and psychological perspective. However, it is important to consider the cognitive-behavioral perspective, psychodynamic perspective and socio-cultural perspective when exploring the causes. It is of great value to provide information on each of the views because it provides multiple perspectives.

Lifespan Development – PSYC510 – Developmental Impact of Life Events/Substance Use on Physical, Mental and Socio-Emotional Development

The area of interest in this course is to comprehend the changes a child encounters when exposed to life events and its effects on development through youth. Additionally, it is important to consider the different models of development based on the theories that each of the theorists developed. Furthermore, it is of value to understand the physical, mental and socio-emotional affects of substance use on development. Also exploring the developmental implication, it has on life course trajectory.

Social Psychology – PSYC515 – Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior

In this area of the course the topic that I am interested in exploring how attitudes and beliefs guide behavior. I believe it is important to understand from a social-psychology perspective the correlation between attitudes and beliefs.

I am more than willing to make any and all changes as needed. Also, do not hesitate to provide me with constructive criticism. I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Forum post #2

I’m nervous to post this as I had a difficult time writing a thesis statement that was cohesive to the four courses. I believe I am ready to weave the themes of the research together integratively, however I did struggle with forming a thesis statement. I realize at this point the thesis statement is fluid and will likely change several times, but I still feel anxiousness about posting it.

The Overarching theme/topic that connects my four courses is: (think of this as the title of your paper, no more than 15 words)

Learned Responses in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Memory Reconsolidation, and recommendations to reduce treatment attrition rates.

Course name and number 1 and area of interest

Learning and Cognition 511: PTSD – A Learned Disorder

We spent a significant amount of time in this course studying associative learning. This allowed me to make a meaningful connection regarding posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that inspired part of this proposed review. There is a large body of literature that views PTSD to be the result of Pavlovian fear conditioning. To briefly explain this theoretical perspective, PTSD can be viewed as a maladaptive response to a traumatic event. Many therapies, including the first-line treatment Prolonged Exposure (PE), aim to reconsolidate traumatic memories to achieve the extinction stage of Classical Conditioning.

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) also supports that PTSD is a learned disorder. The ABC’s of REBT are A) significant activating event, B) belief system, C) highly emotional reaction, and D) dispute. A traumatic event would be the activating event. The belief system that one forms about the event serves as protective factors or risk factors that one will develop PTSD. Irrational beliefs regarding why the event occurred or ruminating over what one could have done different can be predictors of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PSS). People often have highly emotional reactions to trauma. Emotional regulation deficiencies are a diagnostic criterion for PTSD. Disputing irrational beliefs that the individual holds can achieve memory reconsolidation of the event, therefore reducing PSS.

Course name and number 2 and area of interest

Physiological Psychology 525: Neural Substrates of PTSD

Memory reconsolidation is a type of neuroplastic change when a memory is reactivated, subverted, and then updated with new information. There are several areas of the brain highlighted in PTSD research. Dysfunction in brain circuity is implicated in issues such as emotional regulation, attentional control, and working memory. For example, the amygdala is the center for emotional processing. Interestingly, a smaller than average hippocampus has been found in individuals with PTSD. It may be that a small hippocampus is a risk factor for developing PTSD. Hypervigilance and hyperarousal are both physiological symptoms of PTSD.

Course name and number 3 and area of interest

Psychopathology 526: Trauma Related Cognitions

For a diagnosis of PTSD, one must meet each of these criteria for at least one month after being exposed to a traumatic event: re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, cognition and mood symptoms, and arousal and reactivity symptoms. Each of these four criteria can manifest in a different way. For example, cognition and mood symptoms can include dissociative amnesia, negative beliefs about oneself or the world, distorted blame towards oneself or others, negative emotions (fear, anger, shame, etc.), lack of interest in daily activities, detachment from others, or inability to feel positive emotions. These negative appraisals and ruminative thoughts can be a strong force in symptom maintenance across the domains. Disputing these appraisals using REBT can help.

Course name and number 4 and area of interest

Contemporary Issues in Psychology 590: Targeting Causes of Attrition in Treatment

During the week we looked at PTSD in this course, I wrote my essay on the emerging evidence of using drugs such as MDMA and ketamine in conjunction with therapy. I was inspired towards that path after writing about evidence-based treatments in Personality and Counseling Theories. While PE, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Cognitive Therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) are frontline therapies with well-established effects, each have high levels of dropout rates.

MDMA assisted psychotherapy (MDMA-AP) has had positive results at reducing PTSS to the point where participants no longer meet diagnostic criteria. The FDA has designated it as a “breakthrough therapy” and it is current in Phase 3 trials. I’m not going to write about MDMA-AP in my thesis, largely because I have used most of the published research in graded work already. However, I do want to explore other ways to enhance therapy with pharmacotherapy using non-scheduled drugs. The high level of attrition that occurs in PE, CPT, and CT-PTSD is attributed to the high rate of avoidance that is associated with the disorder. Another issue is the untrusting nature of a person with PTSD, making it hard to bond with a therapist.

MDMA releases many neurotransmitters and hormones, including oxytocin – the “love hormone”. This flood of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, etc. is thought to put the client is a relaxed and trusting state. It also allows the individual to relive their trauma while riding the waves of these feel good chemicals. This allows for successful memory reconsolidation. Additionally, MDMA-AP occurs during an 8-hour therapy session (it is also followed by non-drug sessions). This extended therapy session is one of my favorite parts. The traditional 50-minute therapy session can be just enough time to retrigger the client and then send them back into the world in a state of hyper-arousal from the session.

I have located studies that I will be including in my review that evaluated intranasal administration of oxytocin as an adjunct to evidence-based therapy sessions for PTSD. This appeals to me as being an effective way to foster client/therapist bonding and reduce attrition from treatment. Intranasal oxytocin is currently being used in several psychiatric disorders, including autism – to help regulate emotion. Theoretically this makes it a good adjunctive treatment for PTSD. I am also researching intensive therapies interventions. This includes extended sessions and residential programs.

I realize I spent a large amount of time highlighting a therapy that I will not be including in my 24 articles. However, I wanted to explain to everyone how I came to the place that I am in my research inspiration. I believe the MDMA researchers are on to some important components that can be investigated without the use of scheduled drugs. I did have the pleasure to learn a bit more about the pharmacological properties of MDMA during 620 Substance Abuse and Addiction and how it is not largely associated with any addictive propensities. Pending the Phase 3 trial outcomes, we could come to see it reclassified and used in treatment once again.

Forum post #3

The Overarching theme/topic that connects my four courses

The theme of my paper will be on relationships since we are relational people. The question would be why does relationships seemingly fail and people aren’t resilient? The things we learn tie into our relationships with others and the concept we have of ourselves. Our social interaction tie into our relationships with others and help determine the level of healthy balance we maintain. Our personalities determine the value we place on others we have relationships with and how long the relationship will last. Our lifespan development will focus on the milestones that forged our personality and that correlates to how we interact socially and how we learn overall. The purpose of psychology and counseling is to help people with their personal relationship with themselves and their relationship with the people they are around in life.

Course name and number 1 and area of interest

Learning and Cognition will shed light on the key relationships that helped to cultivate learning skills and styles. We grasped concepts of how to learn from our parents or whoever raised us based on how they taught things to us. If it was verbal then we learned to pick up things by hearing and repeating. If it was visual and they made flashcards or had visual we learned to associate picture to learning. If we were made to do things then we learned in that manner. All the ways to learn affect our learning styles and also how we interact with others.

Course name and number 2 and area of interest

Social Psychology will shed light on how social interactions cultivate our character. Our character will determine the relationships we have with others. Our character will determine the academic level we will achieve on as well. If you value the teacher and desire to learn you will take notes, ask questions, and ensure you succeed. If your parents or people in your environment encourage you to learn then you will appreciate learning and the social interactions with others. Social psychology will also determine if who we think we are truly is who we are in the minds of others.

Course name and number 3 and area of interest

Personality and Counseling theories will determine personality type which displays how you learn. Personality type deals with how you interact with others on a social bases. Personality type deals with the healthy development of a person and also how they receive counseling. Personality determines the interaction and response to others in relationships and also in general. Personality or emotional quotient speaks to the type of job you will even have so this will be vital in learning for relationship building.

Course name and number 4 and area of interest

Lifespan development hits on the milestones we must reach in order to develop healthy balance. Our balance and wholeness enhances the whole concept we have as a person. Balance from obtaining milestones in development ensure we have the capacity to learn, form social bonds, build a healthy concept of self, and move forward in life progressively for relationships. If relationships are not healthy then we struggle internally and externally in life.

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