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During the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Ed Khantzian did much to humanize addiction. His 1999 classic, Treating Addiction as a Human Process, gave the field its heart, and this chapter is the heart of this book.
He and others debunked the popular and prevailing notions that addiction resulted from hedonism, sociopathy, or self-destruction. Instead, Khantzian suggested that alcoholics and addicts suffer more intensely and with greater difficulty than most. He proposed, in his classic paper on the self-medication theory in 1985, that they use alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate for these disturbing emotional states, as well as for a range of psychiatric problems. In many cases, this has led them to discover that the short-term effects of their drug of choice help them cope. Continued use gets them in a lot of trouble. Psychological treatment can be helpful here.
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This eBook, Self-Medication Theories, presents material that has been respected and valued by students and further developed over 20 years of teaching. The following theories are from a self-selected group of addiction and psychoanalytic writers who value connecting psychological and emotional vulnerabilities with the development of substance dependence and abuse problems. I have also included several renowned psychoanalytic thinkers and specific aspects of their work. Their contributions deepen and further our understanding of the psychological suffering driving the need to self-medicate.
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