Informal Learning Experience

Published: 2021-06-29 08:30:03
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Category: Learning

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This paper will discuss how my sisters’ drug addiction has been an informal learning experience for me and how my life has been effected trying to help her with this addiction. I will discuss how her experience with drugs occurred through classical conditioning by, identifying the unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response, conditioned stimulus, and the conditioned response. I will also explain how her experience occurred through operant conditioning by describing the behavior, the consequences, and reinforcements of her drug addiction.
Finally, I will address how my learning experience occurred through cognitive social learning and how influences of media and prejudice played a factor. Growing up in a small town with no ambition to set goals and your all about your friends, you will head down a dark lonely path. At the age of 17, my sister Kaitlin decided that her friends knew what was best for and took to drugs. She hung around the wrong crowds and the environmental stimulus took precedence over nurture. My mom did not want to believe that her daughter was addicted to drugs.
It wasn’t until the cops showed my mom a picture from the ATM machine, which showed Kaitlin withdrawing money and things in house started coming up missing. July of 2009 our Dad was hit by a drunk driver. I thought that this would be Kaitlin’s big wake up call. She knew that our father wanted her to get clean and how proud she would make him if she kicked this addiction. In August 2009, I allowed Kaitlin to move in with me and my family. Of course, she had strict guidelines and rules to follow or I wouldn’t hesitate to kick her out. She enrolled at the community college and thought she was on the up and up.
2 Weeks later, I noticed that checks were clearing under a bank account that I never touch. Low and be hold Kaitlin was forging my name to my checks and withdrawing thousands of dollars. I pressed chargers on her for forgery and theft. At this point, I have had enough; I had 3 kids that I needed to look out for their well being. I couldn’t waste anymore time or effort on my sister. It was tough love from here on out. Kaitlin spiraled out of control. In September 2009, our brother reached out to me to help get Kaitlin in a rehab program out of the state of Maryland or we would be burying another family member.
We found a place in Louisiana that had a 90% success rate. To make a long story short in 2012 Kaitlin ends up pregnant. Swears up and down she is clean and hasn’t been using. On March 10th, 2013, my niece (Peyton) was born, addicted to heroin and numerous other drugs. I have opened my heart and home to this wonderful baby girl. She is a true blessing. I had to take a leave of absence from work without pay to provide for Peyton. It was a rough 2 months watching her go thru withdrawals. She is almost a year old and thriving. Unfortunately, being pregnant couldn’t make Kaitlin stop using drugs. To this very day she is still using drugs.
Kaitlin’s addiction started with classical conditioning, a learning process that occurs through associations between an environmental stimulus and a naturally occurring stimulus. Behaviorism is based on the assumption that learning occurs through interactions with the environment (Cherry, n. d). A neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus capable of producing a given response after being repeatedly presented with the unconditioned (significant) stimulus (Carpenter & Huffman, 2010). For example, an addict may use rolling papers, a pipe, or a syringe, etc (conditional stimulus) depending on the drug of their choice.
An addict will eventually crave the drug of choice in the presence of these items (conditioned response), even when the drug is not present (unconditioned stimulus). The absence of the actual drug will lead to an overwhelming desire to use, (unconditional response). When the drugs and all the items are present and their body is going through withdrawals, when the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli occur together, the addict is powerless. Operant conditioning (instrumental conditioning) is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior (Cherry, n. d). Operant conditioning has not worked for my sister.
One would think that losing your child would be punishment in its self. Or facing jail time for theft. Even though Kaitlin is faced with the potential consequences such as jail time, the loss of her child, and possibly death, she still shows no signs of wanting help. Before an addict can get the help they need to admit that they have a problem. On the plus side, because of Kaitlin’s addiction, I was rewarded with a beautiful baby girl. Cognitive-Social learning refers to a psychological model of behavior. Learning occurs in a social context and what is learned is gained through observation.
Addicts have attitudes, beliefs, expectations, motivations, and emotions that affect learning (Carpenter & Huffman, 2010). There are three core concepts of social learning. First, is the idea that people can learn through observation. Second, the idea that internal mental states are an essential part of this process. Third, this theory recognizes that just because something has been learned, it does not mean that it will result in a change in behavior (Denler, H. , Wolters, C. , & Benzon, M, 2014). Drug addiction plays a major role with your mental state of mind. Kaitlin is now 27 years old but has the brain mentality of a 15 year old.
She is bipolar and an antidepressant. It’s said to have to sit back and watch the drugs eat away at her brain and knowing that her mental state of mind will continue to deteriorate. Media and prejudice on learning can influence parenting practices, the overall culture, and individual child factors. It simply makes sense for parents and other adults to monitor the amount and content of the media children are using. Adults must think carefully about the kinds of influences children are exposed to on a regular basis and make conscious decisions based on the individual children involved (Cook, J. L, 2010) .
It isn’t television per se that has positive or negative effects, but what is portrayed and how families handle it. If parents talked to their children about drug addiction and how this is a very hard disease to over come. How drugs are harmful to their health and the different types of consequences you would be faced with, if you chose to use drugs. Would help guide our children in the right direction. Telling children that something is bad, a lot of times gives them that curiosity of wanting to try it anyways. I use my sister has a great example to my children on why you shouldn’t use drugs.
They got to see first hand what drugs can to do you, and seeing poor little Peyton go through withdrawals, broke their little hearts. I think their should more advertisements on TV and on billboards about drug addiction, telling children not to use drugs. In conclusion, my informal learning experience with dealing with a drug addicted sister, has opened my eyes to the type of environment we live in. Even though I talk to my children about drugs, it still worries me as they get older, will their friends have more pull and try to persuade them down the wrong path or will they listen and use their Aunt has an example of what not to do?
The decisions we make in life will either haunt us or make us a better person. Classical conditioning is a learned behavior that happens with or without the presence of the stimulus. Operant conditioning is knowing that there are consequences for this learned behavior (drug use), that results in punishment (loss of your daughter, the presence of old friends, places and things resulting in possible relapse). Cognitive-social learning is coming to the realization that through participation and recovery programs, listening to other addicts stories, and seeing how how some addicts chose to recover.

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