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By Joanne Neale (auth.)

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In other words, the user's psyche is flawed and the individual is using drugs to cope with or ameliorate emotional or intrapsychic distress, depression or low self-esteem (Stephens, 1991). From the psychological perspective, the drug user is a particular 'kind' of person - for example, a person with an 'addictive personality'. According to psychological theories of addiction, the personality deficits of drug users originate in problematic family relations during childhood - for example, from the absence of 'good' role models, from contradictory parental expectations, or from a lack of love and respect.

They can therefore be surprisingly quick to respond to any sudden changes in the situation around them, such as the arrival of police or an overdosing peer. After the nod, the drug user begins to feel 'straight' or normal. This feeling of being straight may last for several hours before the final 'withdrawal' stage of opiate use sets in. During withdrawal, addicts will experience various unpleasant symptoms, such as restlessness, yawning, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, goose bumps, watering of the eyes and nose, sweating, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhoea.

Key findings from these studies are reported at various points in later chapters. For present purposes, it is simply sufficient to note that in all of these investigations, opiate users were found to be busy, self-respecting individuals who actively confronted and purposefully responded to external constraints and life opportunities (Rosenbaum, 1981). In none of these accounts were street addicts victims. On the contrary, they were shown to be resourceful actors who had become committed to a well-defined, all-encompassing way of life of which drug use was only a part (Rosenbaum, 1981; Stephens, 1991).

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