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Foreword

One of the more striking aspects of drug research over the last few years is the relative upsurge of various models and theories explaining, wholly or in part, the problems of drug abuse. In fact, this rapid growth has signaled the need for a single, concise, and widely available volume which would allow interested researchers to discover the existence, diversity, convergence, and complexity of the array of contemporary explanatory perspectives.

Undertaking the preparation of such a compendium was carefully considered. It was our intent to present as many theories as practicable, in an open, nonjudgmental, noncritical manner, and to allow each theorist to speak for his or her own theory. The volume contains 43 theoretical perspectives representing the work of more than 50 theorists. I trust the reader will find this collection of ideas stimulating and will be encouraged to generate future research aimed at hypothesis and theory testing.

Marvin Snyder, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Research
National Institute on Drug Abuse

A Guide to the Volume

One of the early indications that a social problem research domain has come of age is the quantity and quality of the theoretical explanations for it. Over the last several years interest in research on the problems of drug dependence has grown dramatically. What is particularly striking is that each of a wide array of scientific disciplines has explored the problem. Drug dependence is a complex contemporary social problem. Its complexity derives in part from the impact it has on the individual user psychologically, socially, and biologically, and in part from its effects on society, law, economics, and politics.

The primary intent of this volume is to present a representative selection of contemporary theoretical orientations and perspectives in the drug abuse research field, derived from the social and biomedical sciences. Among our secondary aims and intents were these: (1) to produce a major reference volume for research scientists and other interested readers, (2) to afford theorists a forum in which to present their views, and (3) to allow readers to compare and contrast the diverse range of theories on drug abuse.

In designing this volume, it was necessary to assure that each contributing theorist would have sufficient latitude in style of presentation and textual development, and yet that the reader would find comparable discussions of formalized issues so that convergences and divergences among and between the theories could be easily discerned. The solution to these apparently disparate aims was to divide the volume into two distinct parts. Part 1 of the volume contains 43 separate theoretical overviews, one for each of the theories or perspectives. Here, the contributors were given relatively free rein to present an overview of their positions. In contrast, the second part of the volume is purposefully highly structured.

For practical purposes we needed a working definition for theories. The question became, "What is a theory of drug use/abuse, and what are its components?" In general we viewed a theory as something which addressed at least several of the following topics: (1) why people begin taking drugs, (2) why people maintain their drug-taking behaviors, (3) how or why drug-taking behavior escalates to abuse, (4) why or how people stop taking drugs, and (5) what accounts for the restarting of the drug dependence behavior or cycle once stopped. The five chapters of part 2 refer to these five components of a theory, namely. Initiation, Continuation, Transition: Use to Abuse, Cessation, and Relapse. It was hoped that such an organizational framework would facilitate the reader's ability to compare and contrast the theories. In order to facilitate cross-theory comparisons even further, a series of guides has been included in the volume. Additionally, we developed, in conjunction with the authors, a set of shorthand or abbreviated theory titles. Guide 1 is a listing of all contributing theorists and their affiliations. The second guide is a classification of the theories into four broad categories, theories on one's relationship to self, to others, to society, and to nature. A more specific classification of the theories by academic discipline appears in guide 3.

The most important of the guides is guide 4, Organization of the Volume. For each theory, this guide gives the pages on which the overview can be found in part 1, and the page numbers of the corresponding theoretical components (if any) in part 2.

Guide 5, Theory Boundaries, presents a concise, comparative summary of each theory, including its drug focus; the age, sex, and ethnicity of the population to which the theory applies; and a listing of the key variables inherent in the theory.

There are several ways to use this reference volume. One could of course read it straight through. One could read a particular theory overview in part 1 immediately followed by the corresponding sections or components in part 2. Or one may wish to focus on a specific theoretical component of interest in part 2 followed by selective reading of appropriate overview material in part 1. We hope that the volume's specialized format will encourage and facilitate its frequent use.

Dan J. Lettieri, Ph.D.
Chief, Psychosocial Branch
Division of Research
National Institute on Drug Abuse

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