Theories of Drug
(See: Drugs in American Society,
5th, 6th, 7th and 8th editions, Erich Goode, McGraw-Hill, 1999/2005/2008/2012. Chapter 3/6)
Theories attempt to explain a general
class of phenomena: Why people use drugs.
Most Theories focus on particular
features of the phenomenon of drug use:
- Illicit drugs
- The drug experience (How vs. Why)
The Medical/Pathological perspective
is a common organizing theme:
- Use of drug ==> abnormality
- Drug use is not normal, outside
of medical setting
- Use of psychoactive drugs for
pleasure==> indicates something "wrong"
- Use is "caused" by some
pathology, and "causes" further problems
- User is sick==> needs treatment
(question is what kind?)
This perspective seeks to answer
the why of drug use based on the idea that drug use is non-normative (wrong,
bad, immoral, pathological). Other perspectives and theories seek mainly to
understanding social (and psychological) processes.
Psychological => Sociological => Emergence
These theories tend to focus on
non-normative use and/or addiction. They postulate some sort of innate physical
mechanism that "causes" an individual to use drugs, or the continue
to use and/or abuse them after they have experimented.
- Genetic makeup impacts the
processing of a substance and/or the dose required to produce an ASC
- Can vary from individual to individual,
group to group
- Factor influencing pattern of
- A "Trigger"
(in combination with psychological and environmental variables)(YouTube)
Children of alcoholics: children
have patterns of alcohol consumption similar to natural parents. 30-40% of COA==>
become alcoholics versus about 10% of general population.
versus "Cause" (alcohol has less effect==> drink more==> more
- Specifically applied to narcotic
- Vincent Dole and Marie Nyswander:
Certain addicts have disease, similar to in action to diabetes
- Once take narcotic, body develops
a "craving," like diabetics crave insulin
- No cure: Maintenance (Methadone
- Hypothesis versus reality?
- Some addicts behave "as if"
this were the case, methadone has helped a certain percentage.
- Drug use is universal
- Innate drive: variety of paths
for achieving ASC
- Humans are born with the drive
- We experiment early in life
- Receive rewards and punishment
for trying various ways
- Develop preferred methods and
tend to persist in attempts
- Shaped by psycho-social processes
(desires, availabilities, norms, etc.)
- Set and setting shape experience
(can be positive and valuable)
Theories: Tend to focus on compulsive, continual use.
- Behavioralism (no "black
- Personality is (basically) not
Positive: Feels good, do it. Seek
- Dependency issue: Immediate
Sensuous Appeal (Cocaine) vs. Necessity for Learned Response
- Continuum: No use--Moderate--Regular--Abusive/Addict
(Physiological) (Long and "Sufficient" Reinforcement)
Motivated by intense pleasure
- Disruptive: Willing to make extreme
Negative: Avoid pain
- Focus on Physical Addiction--
- Lindesmith' definition
- Use drug to feel normal
- Use drugs as a means of coping
- Emotional/physic defect
- Sunderwirth and Milkman
"Euphoria: adaptive for immature
individual who lacks responsibility, independence, and is unable to postpone
Desire to use drugs==> Weak
person==> Likely to continue==>
- Drugs as a crutch
- Defense Mechanism
- Each drug represents a different
adaptive mechanism: Satiation, Arousal, Fantasy
Low Self-Esteem==> Social Rejection==>
Deviance (coping mechanism)
Non-normative Behavior: deadens
the pain of self and other rejection
Some drug use is normative, and
drug use, even illicit, produces strong, intimate "bonds" for many
to Addiction lecture notes
- Not reinforcement per se, but
- Deviant behavior: not negative
or pathological, BUT different and typically condemned
- Not badness or weakness, just
the type of person likely to get into trouble
- Sort of statistical: The more
people, and the more complex and formalized the society, the greater the likelihood
that there will be more of this type.
- Continuum: Conformity--------------------------Total
- Creativity and Innovation lie
near the Non-Conforming end: Necessary
- I versus Me: Group individual
- Without some "experimentation":
Real problem for society
Strong relationship: The more "problem-prone,"
the more likely an individual is to use drugs. Traits:
- Open to new experience
- Accepting of deviance in others
Willing to accept and engage in behavior
that denotes the move from one status/stage of life to another: Adolescent==>
Adult (Drugs, Sex, etc.)
Degree of Conventionality
Degree of Drug Use
Very little drug use
Drink Alcohol. Smoke marijuana.
Heavy, regular use. "Hard"
Dangerous Use, Criminality
- Emphasize understanding of
the individual located within specific social structures: The group impacts
- Are overlapping and mutually supportive
Types of Social Theories
- Robert Merton
- Cloward and Ohlin: Differential
Opportunity-- "Double Failure"
Problems, yet useful in analyzing
structure of illicit drug market
Edwin Sutherland (1939): Differential
- Behavior is Learned
- Behavior is learned in face-to-face
interaction with others.
- Learning depends on:
As one learns a preponderance of
definitions favorable to deviance, one will engage in deviance.
Modifications to Differential Association
- Nathan Glaser: Differential Identification.
Not all learning is face-to-face
- Ronald Akers: Differential Reinforcement.
Learning involves the application of rewards and punishments. We tend to associate
with groups or individuals who reward our behavior.
Why most don't deviate?=> Hirschi's
Social Control Theory (Social Bonding)
Internal Control: Belief: socialization,
- Link here to Problem-Prone Behavior
- Involvement: time factor
- Commitment: stake in society,
something to lose
- Attachment: role models, someone
you don't want to let down.
Hirschi today: Self Control
Theory-- work ethic, deferred gratification==> success ==> reduces probability
Assumption: No subcultural reality.
Back to Problem-Behavior
Social Learning and
Gresham Sykes and David Matza:
- Deviance and conformity are not
two separate worlds.
- Individuals are neither purely
deviant or purely conformist.
- We drift in and out of deviance,
each successive drift may not take us very far, but we are drifting deeper
into deviant worlds.
- Throughout the process we encounter
"forks in the road, decision points, and varieties of deviant groups/subcultures.
(normalization)=> Professionalization=> Deviance (transformed identity,
subcultural association, and normative structure)
Necessary element which
allows us to drift back and forth, engage in deviance, and yet maintain a consistent
- Denial of Responsibility
(accident, "There just happened to be drugs at the party")
- Denial of Injury (nobody was really
hurt, "It's just pot.")
- Denial of Victim (they deserved
it, perhaps relevant to understanding participation in drug dealing)
- Condemn the Condemners (you accuse
me? "What about all the booze you drink?")
- Appeal to Higher Loyalties (gang,
God, etc., "Mind expansion!")
These theories are related to Social Learning, and to Sykes and Matza's
"Drift" Hypothesis, yet stress the importance of the Subculture:
Group Socialization, Identity Change, and Development of New Value and Normative
- Social Learning: Learn to violate
the norms, need only one "significant other" who 'teaches' you that
norm violation is 'OK."
- Subcultural: Learn to obey a different
set of norms and define oneself in their terms
Becker: "Becoming a Marijuana Smoker" (1953)
- How vs. Why?
- Learning=> Socialization=>
- Focus on the social processes
through which one "becomes" a deviant (and that's OK).
- Stages: Novice, Occassional,
Motive for continued behavior evolves
through participation in the behavior in the company of others.
- Use the drug
- Perceive its effect
- Enjoy the effect
- Access a supply
- Maintain Secrecy
- Neutralize Stigma==> Through
identification with the Subculture
Hirsch, Conforti, and Graney: Restudy
of Becker's Work
- Sequential model, especially stages
1, 2, and 3: not accurate.
- Pattern and progression not unilineal
- But, idea of learning to derive
pleasure (developing a motive) in course of learning to use is a good approach
to understanding group dynamics.
Entry into these deviant groups is
not a random process > We seek out similar others, with whom we share basic
values and attitudes
Socialized in advance
Marijuana use is attractive to novices because they enjoy the company of
those who use; Compatibility, A shared "Weltanschauung"
People are PROGRESSIVELY socialized into more UNCONVENTIONAL groups.
- Alienated from parents
and parental subculture
- Drawn to peers
- Peers and TRANSITION==>
more likely to use drugs
- Drugs, Sex, and Auto
Deviance==> status and prestige: Symbolize independence from parents
Indicates significant value and
- Experience other groups==>
Drug using subculture becomes more compatable
- More associations with more people/friends
using marijuana; more likely to use it, too.
- More use and friends==> deeper
Marijuana, per se, doesn't cause
this shift, it's becoming emeshed in a new subculture. Marijuana
use is an index of involvement in the subculture.
Denise Kandel: Selective Interaction and Socialization
Agents of Socialization
- Long term impact, basic values
- Parental drug use-- some impact,
opens up potential (not necessary)
- Situational impact, Lifestyle
- Peer drug use: Very important
- Teens associate based on similarities
of life styles
- Share drug using patterns (most
likely to share drug use)
Selective peer group interaction
and socialization: Most Powerful Impact on Drug Use.
- Imitation and Social Influence:
Initiate and Maintain Patterns
- Cohesive Groups Form: Reinforce
Shared Values and Behaviors
- Closer the
BOND-- Greater the Impact of Shared Values and Norms
Friends are NOT chosen at Random
- Socialized in Advance
- Choose and are Chosen
based on this process
- Participation in Group==>
Drugs (or away from)
- Recipriocity-- Dialectics.
Dynamic Model-- Sequences/Career
- Not single drug
use, but patterns of multiple drug use
- "Culturally Defined"
- "Use of a lower
drug in a sequence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for progression
to a higher stage..."
Four (4) Stages (Rarely
- Beer or Wine
- Cigarettes or Hard Liquor
- Other Illegal Drugs
- Socially Approved Drugs
- Broad peer/subcultural attitudes
and drug using behaviors
- Marijuana Use
- Development of Specific Positive
Attitudes Toward the Drug
- Peer Influence Strong, Parental
- Stress: Ambiguity of Adolescence
- Alienation From Parents
- Specific "Role Model,"
General Peer influence Declines
- The Stronger each of the above,
the more likely the move to more serious Drugs.
from being a "Drifter" to being a "SEEKER"
Back to Sociological
1999 pages111-116; Elliot Currie: Reckoning: Drugs, the Cities, and tthe
American Future, 1993; Harry Levine: Just Say Poverty: What Causes Crack
and Heroin Abuse, 1991)
- Complusive and destruction
Power, and Neighborhoods: Drug Dealing
- Urban decline since 1970s:
- Increasing gap in income
and wealth : Underclass.
- Neighborhood disorganization-
lack of politial and social capital.
Arrest, and Incarceration and the drug
war on minorities.
A. Two kinds
of drug use
1. Recreational--Cultural Conflict
destruction linked to structural inequalty and collapse
from recreational use to abuse more likely within impoverished populations
(SES and drug use versus SES and drug use problems)
- Biological theories give us insight
into specific mechanisms relevant for understanding a certain (rather small)
segment of the population
- Psychological theories help us
understand willingness and potential for using drugs. BUT, are the characteristics
associated with users Personality Characteristics or are they Subcultural
- Drug use is learned and reinforced
within a group setting
- Selective socialization/recruitment
explains entrance into the group
- Involvement in the group provides
role models and rationales for continued and escalating use
- Different influences are critical
at different life stages and impact the use of different drugs
- There appears, then, to be
a coherent pattern which explains drug use, yet it is not simplistic or unilineal;
but complex, segmented and reflexive.
History of Drugs in the USA
Owner: Robert O. Keel email@example.com
Credits for this Page of Notes
Monday, June 25, 2012 10:49 AM