There is a concept of socio-cultural tolerance, that in a country where a substance is produced and therefore generally consumed, traditionally a state of relative equilibrium is established between this substance and users. This substance is embedded in a social ritual, mystical or religious. This ritual is accompanied by a tradition of using the substance, conveying instructions for use, the quantities used, the dangers relating to the use, etc.
According to some authors, it is the lack of socio-cultural repository that generate abuse problems linked to certain drugs as was the case for the Indians and the fire-water. This socio-cultural tolerance explains the fact that some highly addictive drugs that generate public health problems (including drug addiction) are considered relatively harmless and are sometimes unregulated in some parts of the world (alcohol consumption in the West, khat in Yemen).
The popular view on drug addiction also evolves advanced science or regulations. Until the 1960s, the drug addiction was almost considered a trivial problem.
In the 1970s, the problematic use (including illicit drugs) exploded in the West to become a public health problem while at the same time putting in place international regulation. The addict at the time was then often considered a patient, victim of consumption, forced into crime and whose only salvation was in abstinence.
Western addict then often used a range of specific products (such as heroin, LSD, cocaine, hashish, or hallucinogenic mushrooms, looking for specific effects, stimulants, sedatives, or psychedelic). The rapid development of this type of addiction resulted in severe lack of the qualified professionals and the underdeveloped field of knowledge; psychiatric services or therapeutic communities were often used as a care. Individual or group psychotherapy inspired by psychoanalytic techniques, were then among the most common techniques outpatient treatment for drug addicts with the residential treatment in therapeutic communities based on a behaviorist model (or, in another register, sectarian Scientologists, etc.). These techniques and the discourse that accompanies them will gradually become a kind of prism through which addictive behaviors begin to be understood and explained. Depressive and suicidal tendencies (especially by overdoses) were identified. Psychopathological explanations were not lacking, but the difficulties of treating these patients not left much to overcome.
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