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Impact of Addictive Substances and Behaviours on Individual and Societal Well-being$
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Peter Anderson, Jürgen Rehm, and Robin Room

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198714002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714002.001.0001

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Passive vulnerability or active agency? An ecological and evolutionary perspective on human drug use

Passive vulnerability or active agency? An ecological and evolutionary perspective on human drug use

Chapter:
(p.13) Chapter 2 Passive vulnerability or active agency? An ecological and evolutionary perspective on human drug use
Source:
Impact of Addictive Substances and Behaviours on Individual and Societal Well-being
Author(s):

Roger J. Sullivan

Edward H. Hagen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714002.003.0002

Aetiological theory of human drug abuse has historically been dominated by the notion that drug use is initiated and sustained by biological and behavioural rewards and reinforcement. The operationalization of drug reward theory has invoked other aetiological concepts, including the nature of novelty in the human encounter with drugs, and human behavioural and biological vulnerability to drugs. This chapter explores a contrasting viewpoint that follows from anthropological ethno-history and evolutionary theory. It draws from several previous publications to demonstrate that human evolution has entailed a long and dynamic relationship with ‘drugs’ that has been active and functional, rather than passive and vulnerable; and that fundamental ecological dynamics, rather than rewards, have been the primary ‘cause’ of human drug use. It closes by proposing that an active, rather than passive human drug-use dynamic has implications for drug policy and clinical practice.

Keywords:   drug abuse, reward, reinforcement, vulnerability, evolutionary theory

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