Drug abuse and other problem
This chapter addresses the issue of whether or not one should consider drug abuse as one element of a larger class of problem behaviours, or as a distinct, different phenomenon. There is evidence that drug abuse often does not occur as a solitary manifestation of an individual’s behaviour, but that drug abuse is often one facet of a cluster of behaviours and attitudes that form a syndrome or lifestyle of problem behaviours (Newcomb and McGee 1991; Hovarth 1999). However, drug abuse demonstrates a unique behavioural topography. In this chapter we also discuss drug-related problem behaviours (violence, accidents and risky sex) and compulsive problem behaviours that may or may not have underlying processes similar to drug abuse (see Table 3.1). Regarding compulsive problem behaviours, we consider substance addictions (food and drugs) and process addictions (gambling, work, exercise and spending). Finally, we grapple with the question of overlap and non-overlap of drug abuse with other behaviours.
Some problem behaviours are obviously directly drug related. Drug-related problem behaviours include dangerous or illegal activities used as a means of obtaining drugs – such as drug production and sales, fraud, robbery or violent crimes. Other drug-related problem behaviours include methods of using drugs – such as needle sharing among intravenous drug users. Finally, drug-related problem behaviours include those actions exhibited while under the influence – such as foolish behaviour while drunk or high, unsafe sexual behaviour, or driving under the influence (resulting in fatal and nonfatal vehicular accidents). In this section, we briefly mention three such drug-related behaviours: violence and victimization, accident proneness and risky sex.