Long History of Drug Use in Human Societies
Drug Use is a Cultural Universal
Use of Psychoactive Substances is MASSIVE in Modern Society
Definitions categorize things based on a shared trait- some things included, others excluded. We assume the concept of DRUG is related to some intrinsic characteristic.
Lots of gray area here, matters of degrees, differing perspectives and interpretations.
Basically==> Drugs are Social, Cultural, and Symbolic "Things."
Where does that leave us?
Problem: No formal, objective property will satisfy the inclusion/exclusion of all substances simultaneously. Some things called drugs are:
Others are not!
From a sociological definition, rooted in a Social Constructionist perspective, the substances we call DRUGS are viewed as:
- Social definitions shape our understanding.
- Commonsense definitions tend to be based on illegality.
- Psychopharmacological definitions are typically based on psychoactivity.
- Users definitions are typically based on what gets them high!
The Question is: What effects and what features of a substance do we want to include in a definition of DRUG? (what elements help us make sense of the world out there?)
These elements allow us to focus on: What do substances do, how particular substances are socially defined, and how specific groups respond to the use of the substance.
For our purposes: The primary element is PSYCHOACTIVITY. Other criteria may or may not fit, but psychoactivity is central and shared and leads to Recreational Use.
There seems to be something about "purely" recreational use of a substance that elicits interesting responses in our society, and often leads to definitions of problematic use.
Therefore substances sometimes fall into the category of drugs based on why and how people use them. The designation "Drug" constitutes a Social category.Before we explore the problems associated with drugs and drug use, we need to develop an understanding of the drug experience.
Owner: Robert O. Keel email@example.com
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Last Updated: Friday, January 20, 2012 10:07 AM