[Paleopsych] drugs and violence

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Tue Aug 24 19:20:27 UTC 2004

Steve's question is a thought-provoking one. It is difficult to say, but 
I believe most therapists with experience in the chemical dependency 
field would say drugs caused the problem.

What we mean is that drugs disconnect people.  Even the supposedly 
benign marijuana, or more than three or four drinks a night, seperate 
people, make them less able to relate, and degrade problem solving. 
Cocaine is a tremendous disconnect. Thus, problems that should be dealt 
with tend to fester and the high-functioning people in the family (the 
ones not using drugs / alcohol) are left with greater and greater 
responsibility. Resentment grows. Fights follow, often leading to 
violence toward the high functioning person (often the woman) so the 
substance abuser doesn't have to modify his behavior.

A bit of history: Before prohibition, alcohol consumption was much 
higher, and men tended to go to saloons and get quite drunk before 
coming come, resulting in financial problems, domestic violence, and so 
on. Prohibition was actually a women's liberation issue, combined with 
some religious groups. But the women's lib people pushed it, seeing 
saloons as oppressing women (which they in fact did).  One idea about 
prohibition was to prohibit distilled drinks, but not beer and wine. And 
historically this makes sense; alcohol problems skyrocketed after the 
development of distillation of gin. Beer and wine had more social 
traditions associated with them, or religious rituals, like peoyte among 
some native americans.

But distilled spirits became the provience of men only, in saloons, and 
that eventually led to prohibition.  Ironically, prohibition reduced 
consumption some but also permitted some social rituals to be developed 
where women began going to speakeasies and having mixed drinks. So 
post-prohibition, the unisex abuse of alcohol was reduced.

Recreational drugs lack a religious or social set of rituals, and also 
seem to be more disorganizing to the personality, so they are more 
dangerous, higher social costs associated. Legalizing might work, but is 
a dangeous experiment, since once legal, you have a hard time getting 
back to illegal (alcohol and tobacco, for example) and then there may 
well be many more problems.

Sorry to rave on so long.

Steve wrote:

>In treating people who use drugs, do you think the
>drugs were the cause of the problem, or do you think
>the drug use was a function of problems with the
>family dynamics?
>Steve Hovland
>-----Original Message-----
>From:	Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. [SMTP:ljohnson at solution-consulting.com]
>Sent:	Monday, August 23, 2004 8:59 PM
>To:	The new improved paleopsych list
>Subject:	Re: [Paleopsych] drugs and violence
>I am not as sure as Michael about this. Prohibition was a mixed success. 
>Overall, alcohol consumption had been dropping before prohibition, 
>bounced back some during prohibition, but was clearly lower than it had 
>been in the 19-teens. The benefit to society ironically came before 
>Alcohol & violence: it is a huge factor even to this day. While gangs no 
>longer battle each other, among the lower classes, alcohol precipitates 
>tremendous violence, possibly overall more violence than during 
>prohibition. All drugs to a greater or lesser extent impair human 
>capabilities, with a possible exception of caffeine in moderate doses. 
>So we pay a social price for the human need to alter consciousness.


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