ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (2): 296-310.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00296

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A New perspective of substance addiction based on network theory

LIU Yu1, HU Chuan-Peng2(), FAN Fumin1(), SUN Pei1, XU Jie3, CAI Yuqing1, LIU Xueli4   

  1. 1Department of Psychology, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
    2Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research (LIR), 55131 Mainz, Germany
    3Beijing Gaoxin Hospital, Beijing 100001, China
  • Received:2019-12-17 Online:2021-02-15 Published:2020-12-29
  • Contact: HU Chuan-Peng,FAN Fumin;


Substance addiction involves multiple factors, ranging from biological, social, to cultural. But the dominant biological reductionism-based explanations focus primarily on the brain, potentially hindering a more comprehensive and inclusive research of substance addiction and its recovery. We propose that network theory, focusing on feedback loops formed by interactions between myriad psychological disorder variables, will provide a better holistic framework to understand the complexity of substance addiction. Applying network theory to substance addiction may provide new insights in (1) understanding the interrelationships and interactions between symptoms, (2) understanding the systematic integrity and dynamic changes in symptom networks, and (3) integrating multiple levels of factors into a unified theoretical framework. Also, network theory may generate new approaches for future interventions and treatments. In sum, networktheory, as a theoretical model, provide a new perspective for understanding substance addiction and its intervention. We believe this reframing will encourage more empirical research toward various other hypotheses within this framework, thus, promoting the treatment and recovery of substance addiction.

Key words: substance addiction, network theory, biological reductionism, dynamical system

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