Intoxication: The Universal Drive for Mind-Altering Substances

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Inner Traditions / Bear & Co, Mar 29, 2005 - Social Science - 372 pages
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A scientific and cultural exploration of the pursuit of altered states of consciousness in both humans and animals

• Contains myriad studies and examples from the author's 20 years of research

• By the foremost authority on the social and psychological effects of drug use

History shows that people have always used intoxicants. In every age, in every part of the world, people have pursued intoxication with plants, alcohol, and other mind-altering substances. In fact, this behavior has so much force and persistence that it functions much like our drives for food, sleep, and sex. This "fourth drive," says psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel, is a natural part of our biology, creating the irrepressible demand for intoxicating substances.

In Intoxication Siegel draws upon his 20 years of groundbreaking research to provide countless examples of the intoxication urge in humans, animals, and even insects. The detailed observations of his so-called psychonauts--study participants trained to explicitly describe their drug experiences--as well as numerous studies with animals have helped him to identify the behavior patterns induced by different intoxicants. Presenting his conclusions on the biological as well as cultural reasons for the pursuit of intoxication and showing that personality and guidance often define the outcome of a drug experience, Siegel offers a broad understanding of the intoxication phenomenon as well as recommendations for curbing the negative aspects of drug use in Western culture by designing safe intoxicants.

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Anbefales veldig kraftig. Stappfull av interessante historier, særdeles velskrevet - denne boka er fylt til randen av saker og ting en aldri har hørt før. Den er ikke spesielt moraliserende heller. Det virker som om forfatteren har meget mye innsikt i saker og ting. Bør leses av alle som ønsker innsikt i tingenes tilstand!  


War in Eden Origins of Plant Drugs
A Trip of Goats Discovery of Poisons and Intoxicants
Falling Birds and Flying Cats Accident with Hallucinogens
A Shrewdness of Apes Learning to Use Tobacco and Other Drugs
Ark on the Rocks Alcohol as the Universal Intoxicant
Milk of Paradise Romance and Addiction with Opium
The Fourth Drive Motivation for Intoxication
Fire in the Brain Mental Marvels Murder and Mechanisms of Control
StarSpangled Powders Drugs and the American Way
War on Drugs Enduring Supplies and Demands
Waking Dreams Drugs in the Future

Emerald Laughter Hashish and Marijuana
Forced March Coca and Cocaine
A Bevy of Beasts Drugs in the Social Group

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Page 327 - Jr. and Beck, M. 1985. Aversive and attractive marking of toxic and safe foods by Norway rats.

About the author (2005)

Chapter 10
The Fourth Drive

Motivation for Intoxication

The dynamics of the fourth drive are best illustrated by the history of cocaine. In the second half of the nineteenth century a widely held belief in Western medicine was that most physical and mental diseases were caused by brain exhaustion and the best way to cure these conditions was to wake up the brain with a stimulating coca tonic. Physicians, pharmacists, and chemists recommended daily doses of coca extracts or wines that delivered the same amount of cocaine as obtained from chewing coca leaves. While intensified dosage patterns were normally prescribed, abuse was held in check by the highly diluted preparations.

Other patterns of use were encouraged by the commercial marketing of coca products. Coca was promoted as a wonder drug not only for medicine but also for social and recreational purposes. To make it more attractive, an assortment of coca preparations were sold, including tonics, gum, cigarettes, and soft drinks. Coca-Cola, originally promoted as a brain tonic for the elderly, was made with a coca extract. It reportedly contained slightly less than 60 milligrams of cocaine per eight-ounce serving, the amount found in a modern intranasal dose.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the tonics were much more potent; cocaine had been recently isolated from the leaf, and the manufacturers substituted it for the coca extracts. Whereas coca products were treated as roughly equivalent to the chewing of the leaves, cocaine was advertised as two hundred times stronger. And it was. Just as the chimps on North and South Island had discovered, coca was not cocaine, and the golden age of coca medicine was in for some lackluster years.

Physicians started increasing the daily dosages to as much as 1,200 milligrams, a lethal dose for most people if taken into the body all at once. The increased doses of cocaine were further complicated by the popularity of the highly efficient intranasal and injection routes of administration. By the time Annie Meyers bought her first bottle of Birney''s Catarrh Remedy in 1894 to treat a bad cold, many snuffs were pure cocaine and patients were instructed to take them as needed. Mrs. Meyers''s perceived needs went beyond the bounds of treating her cold and her pattern of use became compulsive.

When Annie Meyers was arrested for the last time, while trying to blow open a safe, she looked awful and she knew it: "My hair was mostly out. A part of my upper jawbone had rotted away. My teeth were entirely gone. My face and my entire body were a mass of putrefying cocaine ulcers. I weighed only about eighty pounds and it would be hard to conceive of a more repulsive sight." Not hard at all. One need only examine more recent cases where users, faced with plentiful supplies of cheap cocaine, danced faster and harder than Mrs. Meyers ever could with her Birney''s.

Arrest finally stopped Annie Meyers from doing her Cocaine Dance. Her treatment consisted of a long stay in a sanitarium coupled with the religious and moral lectures that were popular in her day. Traditionally, society still tries to hold the drive in check through legal and moral controls that employ penalties for use, treatment for users, and preventive education for nonusers. Although these methods haven''t worked, our response in the face of such unstoppable examples of the drive as the modern cocaine abuser has been to intensify the controls. Accordingly, punishments escalate, testing programs for the involuntary detection of users become more widespread, treatment becomes mandatory, and educational campaigns tend to deliver more hyperbole than honest information, as in the recurrent message that "drugs will destroy your brain."

Recently, there have been attempts to quiet the underlying drive itself. Psychiatrists try to block it with isolation, physical and chemical restraints, even electric shock. When all else fails, neurosurgeons in South America have severed the neural pathways in the brains of young cocaine users who refuse to stop. It is as if the healing profession is stepping in to fulfill the promise that drugs will destroy your brain. In Annie Meyers''s time the healing arts also panicked. Dr. Albrecht Erlenmeyer, a famous nineteenth-century drug expert, saw so many unstoppable addicts like Mrs. Meyers that he proclaimed cocaine to be "the third scourge of mankind," after opium and alcohol. It was really only the fourth drive, a drive our species had always danced to and always would.

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