If individual and cultural beliefs have been given short shrift in addiction theories, then values have been considered in such models primarily as illustrations of moralistic prejudice.

Whereas a layperson might condemn the values of a mother who uses drugs or drinks excessively during pregnancy or of a person who assaults others when drunk or using drugs, some pharmacologically based theorists instead emphasize the potency of the drug and the irrevocable need of the person to obtain the drug at the cost of any other consideration whatsoever.

Peele (1987) turned this model on its head— claiming that people become addicted due to a failure of other values that maintain ordinary life involvements. In Peele's view, personal values influence whether people use drugs, whether they use them regularly, whether they become addicted, and whether they remain addicted. These values included prosocial behavior (including achievement, concern for others, and community involvement), self-awareness and intellectual activity, moderation and healthfulness, and self-respect. Evidence for the role of values in addiction are the explicit values people cite as reasons for giving up addictions to cocaine, alcohol, and nicotine (Reinarman, Waldorf, & Murphy, 1991).

(See also: Addiction: Concepts and Definitions; Adjunctive Drug Taking; Asia, Drug Use in; Causes of Substance Abuse; Expectancies; Religion and Drug Use)


Glassner, B., & Berg, B. (1984). Social locations and interpretations: How Jews define alcoholism. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 45, 16-25. Greaves, G. B. (1980). An existential theory of drug dependence. In D. J. Lettieri, M. Sayers, & H. W. Pearson (Eds.), Theories on drug abuse (pp. 24-28). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office (DHHS Pub. No. ADM 80-967). Heath, D. B. (1982). Sociocultural variants in alcoholism. In E. M. Pattison & E. Kaufman (Eds.), Encyclo pedic handbook of alcoholism (pp. 426-440). New York: Gardner Press.

KHANTZIAN, E. J. (1985). The self-medication hypothesis of addictive disorders: Focus on heroin and cocaine dependence. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 1259-1264.

MACANDREW, C., & EDGERTON, B. (1969). Drunken comportment: A social explanation. Chicago: Aldine.

Miller, P. M., Smith, G. T., & Goldman, M. S. (1990). Emergence of alcohol expectancies in childhood. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 51, 343-349.

PEELE, S. (1987). A moral vision of addiction: How people's values determine whether they become and remain addicts. In S. Peele (Ed.), Visions of addiction (pp. 201-233). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books/ Heath.

PEELE, S. (1985). The meaning of addiction: Compulsive experience and its interpretation. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books/Heath.

Reinarman, C., Waldorf, D., & Murphy, S. (1991). Cocaine changes: The experience of using and quitting. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Vaillant, G. E. (1983). The natural history of alcoholism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Stanton Peele

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