The Social Psychology of Drug Abuse

By Steve Sussman; Susan L. Ames | Go to book overview

10
Future considerations in the
drug abuse arena

We have now presented several chapters on the delineation, aetiology, prevention and cessation of drug abuse. Numerous issues were discussed and some answers were provided. Now what? What should we be thinking of for the future of drug abuse research and practice? This chapter addresses this question and suggests possible future research directions.


What is drug abuse?

First, we emphasize the importance of clarifying terms and remaining open to new ideas to permit learning from each other. While speaking with some people about drug abuse, they commented, ‘Well, finally we all agree that drug abuse is a disease.’ In response, we questioned whether these individuals wanted to know our opinions about the subject, to which they responded that they were not sure they did but to go ahead. We commented that our opinions depend on their definition of a disease. To that response, these individuals did not wish to discuss the issue further. Does this example sound familiar?

It is our goal to increase our understanding of drug abuse. Unfortunately, there are many political misgivings such that open communication is difficult. Some of these misgivings are due to the allocation of moneys – those individuals whose theoretical stance on drug abuse commands the most respect also may control use of government and private funds. Use of certain terms over others may lead to receipt of more insurance coverage as well (Quintero and Nichter 1996). Conversely, people who control the flow of money may also control the ideas propagated. Hence, the flow of funds and the power of lobbyists and decision-makers can limit the study of drug use and abuse.

Additionally, some misgivings pertain to fragility of personal construct systems. Some individuals may feel that they remain drug-free because they

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