Just say maybe, it depends on my friends

January 24, 1997

CHAOS theory could provide the key to helping drug addicts kick their habit.

Alan Dean, a lecturer in the school of social and political sciences at Hull University, is identifying underlying patterns behind the kind of unpredictable behaviour which hinders drug abusers' efforts to give up.

Mr Dean, who has studied drug-takers in rural areas, says the pattern of drug use is dictated by a mixture of the biological make-up of a person and their social situation at any one moment.

Most people treat drug addiction as if it developed in a linear way, with addicts starting off taking a small amount and then steadily increasing the dose, he said. In fact addiction followed a totally irregular pattern, which social workers needed to identify when helping addicts recover.

"Drugs have different effects on different people but a lot of other things are going on in people's lives too," he said.

"It all depends on their friends, their personal aspirations, where they live. These influences are continually changing."

If people living in rural areas wanted to experiment with drugs and had friends in urban areas they would use heroin or cocaine, he explained.

If their contacts were in the farming community, they would sniff silage fumes or take drugs used to tranquilise pigs or cattle.

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