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Sharoff, R.L. (1969). Character Problems and their Relationship to Drug Abuse. Am. J. Psychoanal., 29(2):186-193.

(1969). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 29(2):186-193

Character Problems and their Relationship to Drug Abuse

Robert L. Sharoff, M.D.

The following presentation represents an attempt to characterize the type of individual who is apt to abuse a specific type of drug. It is not implied that the association of certain character traits and a preference for abuse of a specific type of drug means that I am offering an etiology for the problem of drug abuse. I am proposing that individuals with certain types of problems are more apt to abuse one type of drug rather than another.

The drugs I will discuss fall into the following three classifications: first the non-narcotic sedatives characterized by such drugs as alcohol, the barbiturates and most of the minor tranquilizers; second, the drugs which are called narcotics; and third, those that are referred to as the hallucinogens (the commonest of these being marijuana or hashish, LSD, and mescaline).

It might be well to take a moment to clarify what I consider to be a narcotic drug and what differentiates a narcotic drug from all other classes of drugs. By my definition, a narcotic drug is one which, in the usually prescribed therapeutic dose, produces both analgesia (relief of physical pain) and sedation (relief of anxiety). To my knowledge, only the opiates have such effects.

I would also like to state what I mean by the term “drug abuse” and differentiate it from such conditions as “drug addiction, drug habituation or drug dependency.” The last three conditions all imply drug abuse, but drug abuse does not necessarily imply any of the three, although it usually occurs when any of the three obtain.

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