• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Substance use and abuse are two of the most frequent psychological problems clinicians encounter. Mainstream approaches focus on the biological and psychological factors supporting drug abuse. But to fully comprehend the issue, clinicians need to consider the social, historical, and cultural factors responsible for drug-related problems. Substance Use and Abuse: Cultural and Historical Perspectives provides an inclusive explanation of the human desire to take drugs. Using a multidisciplinary framework, authors Russil Durrant and Jo Thakker explore the cultural and historical variables that contribute to drug use. Integrating biological, psychosocial, and cultural-historical perspectives, this innovative and accessible volume addresses the fundamental question of why drug use is such a ubiquitous feature of human society.

An Evolutionary Perspective
An evolutionary perspective
Introduction

The earliest concrete evidence of human drug use dates back more than 5,000 years. Recipes for beer appear in Mesopotamian clay tablets dated to 3000 b.c.e. (Katz & Voigt, 1986), and recent excavations at Godin Jepe in modern-day Iraq suggest that both beer and wine were distributed to soldiers in Mesopotamian armies 5,500 years ago (Bower, 1994). The earliest written record of opium appears in Sumeria in 3400 b.c.e., where it is referred to as hul gil or “joy plant,” hinting at its use in recreational contexts (Booth, 1996). The early use of other psychoactive substances such as cannabis, coca, coffee, betel, and hallucinogens is also well documented (e.g., Dobkin de Rios, 1990; Rudgley, 1993), and if some speculations are ...

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