Chapter One

Introduction

Gerald Bennett

This book has been written for those attempting to help drug users, with the practical aim of aiding them to improve their work with individuals and to develop their services. It has been written by drug workers and is based largely on what they have learned from their clinical experience, together with theory and research findings which have proved helpful. The practical aim shows itself in the detailed, often prescriptive, accounts written about therapeutic approaches; much of this work makes little reference to research findings which can validate or guide the tasks which drug services face—this is because such research has never been carried out. One of the chapters is exceptional in reporting the first findings of a scientific evaluation of one particular therapeutic approach, but for the most part practice has gone beyond research, and is guided by an amalgam of experience and theory.

Several important themes run through the contents of this book. Two of these, which are central concerns of Tober’s contribution (Chapter 2), are the importance of learning, and the developing nature of motivation. Others are the roles of pharmacological treatments and the potential for new drug services to learn from elsewhere, principally alcohol agencies and drug agencies in the past.


The importance of learning

Drug users learn to use drugs through processes which are not unique to them, but are common to most areas of life; these operate in the individual in their own unique set of circumstances. In Chapter 2 Tober describes some of the ways in which learning processes can be involved when people learn to take drugs in different ways, including dependent use, and the factors involved in maintaining these habits. This perspective explains that people continue to take drugs, not because they have an illness or are totally irrational, but

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