Focusing on Addictive Disorders Rather than Drug Use. Thomas Nicholson, PhD David F. Duncan, DrPH John B. White, PhD. Abstract.
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Thomas Nicholson, PhD
David F. Duncan, DrPH
John B. White, PhD
How professionals and societies deal with substance abuse is premised on how abuse is defined and on distinguishing disordered drug taking from non-disordered drug use. Evidence from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study (Robins & Regier, 1991) revealed that only 20.27% of all users of illicit drugs in the US population had experienced a period of abuse at some time during their drug use history. Among users of illicit drugs the current prevalence of substance abuse disorders was only 4.19%. Our own data from the DRUGNET survey shows that there are many users of illicit drugs who are not only free from substance use disorders, but who are well-adjusted and productive members of society (1999). Drug users responding on the DRUGNET survey, for instance, had scores on the General Well-Being Schedule that did not differ from US national norms. The persistent failure to differentiate use from abuse where the currently illicit drugs are concerned undermines effective prevention and treatment of the addictive disorders we are really concerned with.