The Social Psychology of Drug Abuse

The Social Psychology of Drug Abuse

The Social Psychology of Drug Abuse

The Social Psychology of Drug Abuse


• Is drug abuse a disease?

• What causes drug abuse?

• How can drug abuse be best prevented or treated?

This concise and comprehensive overview unravels the complexities surrounding the definition, cause and treatment of drug abuse. The authors set out the different classes of drugs of abuse, distinguish drug use from abuse, and consider whether or not drug abuse should be seen as a disease. They go on to examine other compulsive behaviours, such as eating disorders and pathological gambling, for their similarities and differences from drug abuse, and detail current methods of assessing drug abuse. Numerous extra-personal and intra-personal predictors of drug use and abuse are examined, including drug distribution systems, and biological factors, as well as social psychological factors. Finally, the authors present the wide spectrum of current prevention and treatment programmes and discuss future directions in the prevention and cessation of drug abuse. This book takes an international approach and provides vital information on key issues, presenting its material from a social psychological perspective, but drawing on work in public health, clinical psychology and sociology. Each chapter provides a summary and tables to help the reader integrate the information. It will prove invaluable not only to undergraduate and postgraduate students, but to counsellors, researchers, and policy makers.


Drug abuse continues to present a significant public health problem. Drug abuse and dependence are associated with disproportionate costs to society in terms of criminal activity, spread of HIV infection and other diseases, medical expense, deaths on and off the road, and disruption of local communities and families. The sequelae of drug abuse may begin as a picture of prolonged personal risk. However, drug abuse inevitably becomes a societal problem when criminal activity is the only means of obtaining moneys to support the addiction, when innocent bystanders suffer the effects of drugrelated crime or accidents, and when health insurance and medical costs rise for everyone because of drug abuse. Before the 1960s, the general public was aware that many individuals were abusing alcohol but the perception was that only some individuals were abusing illicit drugs. Then, something happened. In the 1960s, use of alcohol and illicit drugs appeared to increase radically, peaked in the 1970s, lowered in the 1980s, and began to increase again in the 1990s. Drug use may or may not be levelling off in the 2000s, but its cumulative negative impact on our world community cannot be ignored.

What is drug abuse? When trying to answer this question, other questions may come to mind. Has a favourite celebrity been seen hanging out of the window of some posh detoxification facility, somewhere between jobs? Did you hear this person just died? Is someone in your family the life or death of the party? What’s going on? Why are these seemingly normal human beings killing themselves? Are these people diseased, conditioned, injured, engaging in shoddy cultural practices, immoral, socially alienated, genetically challenged, coping poorly or just making poor life decisions? The purpose of this book is to provide a resource for discussion of these and many other questions.

This book can provide the basis for a course in the issues pertaining to the aetiology, prevention and cessation of drug abuse. It is tailored to the upper level undergraduate student. It is assumed that some courses in the social . . .

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