Donald Ardell (1977) has defined the term holistic as follows.
. . . viewing a person and his/her wellness from every possible perspective, taking into account every available concept
and skill for the person's growth toward harmony and balance. It means treating the person, not the disease (p. 5).
An holistic approach implies paying attention to several aspects of the human being, including their physical, mental,
emotional, and spiritual dimensions. However, one must also consider the interaction between the individual and the physical
and social environment.
Drug-taking behavior and the effects produced by drugs can also be examined in many ways. A pharmacologist can study the
effects of particular drugs on different bodily systems in an attempt to understand how drugs work in the human body. Sociologists
can examine drug-taking patterns to find out why people use drugs recreationally and how their use affects social systems.
Criminologists study patterns of drug taking to try to discover how to eliminate illicit drug use, misuse, and abuse. Every
scholarly discipline has its own interests to study. However, when are all the pieces joined so that we can understand the
phenomena associated wiir drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior? The only true picture of drug-associated behavior can come
from an holistic, or whole person, approach.
The approach compels us to examine both the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual elements of drug use, misuse, and
abuse and the physical and social environmental influences. Therefore, with each class of drugs, we are interested a; its
history because many of our expectations are based on the past, and many of our current actions stem from the actions of others
who preceded us. We are interested in the interaction of drugs with the complex human entity that entails the physical mental,
emotional, and spiritual elements. We hope to examine the "usual" outcomes and also the paradoxical ones. We will consistently
stress the importance of biologic variability (i.e., individual differences among users) and try to understand that it is
sometimes due to physical, mental or emotional, or spiritual difference* among people. We are interested in the social elements
defined within the context a" person-to-person and person-to-group interaction. We are interested in the leeģ issues surrounding
drug use. Sometimes these issues define use patterns, sometimes they are caused by use patterns. In either case, they comprise
part of the social environment with which each user interacts.
We are therefore interested in the whole picture, which we can see only who we understand the interrelationships of its
parts. Therefore, we have included a chapter about the nervous system and one about patterns of use. Because the whole person
cannot be depicted in a single chapter, we suggest that a complete understanding of drug use, misuse, and abuse comes only
when we examine the relation ships among these issues and recognize that drugs are used only by whole persons.
Thus it is meaningless to discuss drugs as if they were an issue apart from the people who take them and the contexts in
which they are taken. It is equally pointless to limit our concern to a handful of legally proscribed or regulated drugs when
the effects of these drugs can also be produced by many unregulated drugs. Such fragmented approaches result in billions of
dollars being spent to reduce the availability of a few drugs or to produce books about a small number of substances. We will
try to avoid such fragmentation; drugs will be discussed as they relate to whole persons in social contexts.