Set and Setting

Pharmacological activity greatly determines the effects experienced from drugs, but nonpharmacological factors also can have a profound influence on the occurrence of specific drug effects. The two most important nonpharmacological factors are user set and setting, primary factors in what Norman Zinberg referred to as controlled drug use. Controlled drug use operates under social controls, consisting of rituals of and sanctions about drug use, usually in social settings. Sanctions define appropriate drug use and prohibit or condemn compulsive use, and they limit use to specific physical and social settings conducive to safer, more positive experiences. Policies have been designed to develop and disseminate these controlling rituals and social sanctions among drug users to prevent or limit harms from use.

User set is a psychological term to ...

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