NASA agrees with me on the nature of drug abuse.
Initial low-level involvement with drugs may result from peer pressure, drug availability or other risk factors in an individual's social or family environment. Subsequent escalation to and maintenance of higher levels of drug use is likely to result from biological, psychological or psychiatric characteristics of the individual user. In some cases, vulnerability may be inherited in the form of heightened susceptibility to a certain type of drug. In most cases, however, escalation will be caused by psychological traits or psychiatric conditions, some of which may also be inherited.Note the bolded parts. I have blogged every one of those points well before they became common knowledge. Every single one.
Recent scientific research shows that characteristics of the individual, rather than of the drug, play a dominant role in vulnerability to drug abuse. The social and psychological maladjustment that characterizes most frequent drug abusers precedes the first drug use.4 One study that tracked children from an early age to adulthood identified predictors of future serious drug use that could be identified in children's behavior as early as age seven. 5
Although psychoactive drugs do have potent addictive properties, addiction does not follow automatically from their use. Most people who experiment with drugs or even use them regularly for a while do not become abusers or develop dependence. For psychologically healthy youths, some experimentation with drugs does not normally have adverse future consequences. For others who already have some emotional or psychological problem, drug use easily becomes part of a broad pattern of self-destructive behavior.6
Poorly adjusted individuals who do not become involved with illegal drugs will often become involved with some other non-drug addictive behavior that fills the same psychological void.
A study based on a sample of 20,291 individuals drawn from the community at large found that more than half of those who met the medical criteria for diagnosis as drug abusers also suffered from one or more mental disorders at some point during their lifetime. This included 28% with anxiety disorders, 26% with mood disorders (depression), 18% with antisocial personality disorder, and 7% with schizophrenia. Some had multiple disorders. The prevalence of mental disorders varied with the drug being abused, ranging from 50% of marijuana abusers to 76% of those who abused cocaine. Almost half of the drug abusers also suffered from alcohol abuse at some point during their lifetime.7
Just to give one example: food, sex, and exercise junkies:
Big Mac Heroin Attack
You can go through some of my other articles on the nature of addiction at Drug War Articles. Or look at my sidebar under "Drug War" or "Addiction" in the list of topics.
Here is a book on the subject:
The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment
Here is what one reviewer said about the book:
First, let me say that I am a doctor specializing in alcohol and drug studies and the author of over a hundred publications so I have a good perspective of science books, etc. In a sentence, Carl Erickson's book, The Science of Addiction is one of the best books ever published on the subject. Anyone in the field of addiction medicine (e.g., physicians, psychologists, drug/alcohol counselors) or with a personal or other professional interest in addiction will learn from this book. While a bit more advanced than Drugs The Brain and Behavior: The Pharmacology of Abuse and Dependence, by the same author, it is still very readable, fully referenced and current. Two thumbs up to Dr. Erickson.The question in my mind is: what is so special about illegal drug use/abuse? We don't go after alcoholics unless they are harming others. We certainly don't legally persecute food addicts. Exercise addicts? Not even on the radar.
The one thing I can think of is that there is a LOT of money in the persecution of illegal drug users. Which reminds me of another book I can personally highly recommend.
Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State
I wrote a review of that book a while back: How To Put An End To Drug Users. Just in case you are interested in a preview of the contents.
H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas
Cross Posted at Classical Values