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Drugs and the Whole Person

Whole Person
New Approach
David F. Duncan, DrPH
Robert S. Gold, PhD, DrPH

Psychoactive drugs have had a long, rich history. For the past 10,000 years, people have experimented with botanical material in an attempt to cure illness, achieve oneness with a supreme being, elevate consciousness, relieve anxiety, or share pleasurable experiences with friends.

This search through materia medica has provided our modern societies with many wonderful drugs that are capable of almost all of the things for which we have wished. At the same time, and particularly during the last few centuries, some individuals have created more problems for themselves than they have resolved through the use of drugs.

In the last 20 years, a great deal of money and effort has been expended in an attempt to minimize the problems of drug dependence and drug abuse. These efforts have included many courses and books dealing with these issues. Some have been very good; others have been more problematic than helpful.

Among the most striking elements of the majority of books and courses related to drugs that may be used or abused are the following. Too often:

(1) The drug and not the interaction of a human being with a complex chemical entity is the focus of attention.

(2) Drug effects and not the behavior of drug-taking individuals and its deterČminants are stressed.

(3) Approaches are taken that fail to put our current difficulties in a reasonable historical perspective.

(4) Simplistic solutions are offered to complex behavioral problems.

Drugs and the Whole Person expresses our belief that people use or abuse drugs and that these people are part of a larger whole; drugs cannot properly be the focus of such issues, but the individuals themselves must be; our current societal structure is predicated on what has come before; and there are no simplistic soČlutions to the problem of drug abuse. Moreover, we feel that drug use is too frequently mistakenly called drug abuse, and that this mislabeling is often the root of failures of programs designed to deal with the real problems.

Our intent is to provide information in perspective, both historical and current; reexamine some serious problems; and redefine others that are not as serious as they seem. We have not provided teaching methods sections because our intent is not to provide a curriculum guide or a textbook primarily for teachers. This book is an overview of drugs in the most general sense and, in that light, can contribute to any discipline interested in such issues.

David Duncan

Robert Gold

Publication History

Drugs and the Whole Person was originally published by John Wiley and Sons in 1982. The second edition was published in 1985 by Macmillan. During the decade it was in print it became the second most widely adopted textbook nationally for college level drug education courses.

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