Extrapersonal predictors of
The first part of this book presented the general problem of drug abuse what it is and how to measure it. The second part of the book examines what leads to drug abuse. Drug abuse is a multifactorial biopsychosocial process. The diversity and complexity of factors contributing to the initiation and perpetuation of drug use makes its study particularly challenging. Current theoretical discussions of drug abuse development are based in environmental, social, learning, cognitive/affective and physiological arenas, as well as an integration of these arenas (for example Niaura et al. 1988; Petraitis et al. 1995; see also Chapter 7 of this book). There are multiple influences and causal pathways that lead to drug abuse. Many suspected influences contributing to the maintenance of drug use are not readily changeable (for example genetics, though the future of genetic engineering looks very promising), whereas many other influences are more amenable to change (for example social influence, unstructured time). Some influences place individuals at risk for future abuse and some influences appear to be protective – that is, help to counteract or inhibit the effects of risk factors of drug abuse (see the discussion on risk and protective factors in Chapter 7).
Obviously, not all individuals choose to experiment with drugs of abuse, and not all individuals who experiment with drug use progress to abuse. An individual is exposed to numerous life events, generally over a period of many years (though not always), before experimental use progresses to abuse (Wills et al. 1996). There has been a great deal of research and attention focused on drug use behaviours, and there is now some consensus about correlates of drug use, abuse, and dependence. A correlate is a variable that tends to co-occur with, vary with, or is associated with the behaviour of interest in a way that is not expected simply on the basis of chance. For example, a relatively obvious correlate of drug abuse is someone’s quantity of drug use consumption. The greater the level of current drug use, the