PS268 – Chapter 2: Drug Use as a Social Problem
Laissez-Faire: A hands-off approach to government.
Three major concerns aroused in the public interest:
1. Toxicity: Some drug sellers were considered to be endangering the public
health & victimizing individuals because they were selling dangerous, toxic
chemicals, often without labeling them or putting warnings on them.
2. Dependence: Some sellers were seen as victimizing individuals and
endangering their health by selling them habit-forming drugs.
3. Crime: Drug user came to be seen as a threat to the public safety.
Toxic: Poisonous, deadly or dangerous – drugs = toxic if misused.
Behavioural Toxicity: Toxicity resulting from behavioural effects of a drug.
Acute – Referring to drugs, the short-term effects of a single dose. (Sharp)
Chronic – Referring to drugs, the long-term effects of a single dose. (Long)
DAWN: Drug Abuse Warning Network
US government set up in order to monitor the toxicity of other drugs than
alcohol – collects data on drug-related emergency room visits from hospital
emergency departments in major metropolitan areas around the country.
When an individual goes to the emergency room they record the drug misuse
or abuse in order to determine the # of visits associated with the drugs.
Also collects data on drug-related deaths; alcohol associations are only
accounted for when it is mixed with a drug to cause the problem.
How Dangerous? Alcohol accounts for 100,000 US deaths a year while
cigarettes account for 40,000 deaths. MJ is 8x more common than cocaine.
Blood Bourne Disease: Concern for users who inject and share needles can
result in: HIV, AIDS, liver infections, and hepatitis B and C
Substance Dependence: What is it?
Frequent users typically exhibit 3 characteristics of their substance use:
1. Tolerance: Refers to the phenomenon seen with many drugs in which
repeated exposure to the same dose of the drug results in a lesser effect.
2. Physical Dependence: Defined by the occurrence of a withdrawal
syndrome: consistent set of symptoms that appears after discontinuing use of
a. Physical Dependence: Drug dependence defined by the presence of a
withdrawal syndrome, implying that the body has become adapted to
the drug’s presence.
3. Psychological Dependence: Defined in terms of observable behaviour –
indicated by frequency of using a drug or by the amount of time or effort an
individual spends in drug-seeking behaviour.
a. Reinforcement: Procedure in which a behavioural event is followed by
a consequent event such that the behaviour is more likely to be
repeated. The behaviour is taking a drug m