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November 4, 1968

Psychopharmacological Elements of Drug Dependence

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pharmacology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor.

JAMA. 1968;206(6):1263-1266. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150060037007

The complexities of drug dependence as a scientific, medical, and social problem are so great that the pharmacological and psychological principles, common to all forms of drug dependence, are easily obscured in the mass of detail and in the semantic arguments about definitions.1

It may appear to be fatuous to say that the individual having had no experience with psychoactive drugs will never become dependent. In effect, however, this is the only means by which drug dependence could be eliminated in the human society. Having once experienced such drug effects, a large majority of the world population will inevitably become drug dependent (Figure). Some drugs are so weak that little harm results. But many are such powerful reinforcers that if all the population were to be given a drug trial with every major psychoactive drug by intravenous administration and then permitted free access to the drug of their choice,