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Alternatives to Adolescent Drug Abuse

Sidney Cohen, MD
JAMA. 1977;238(14):1561-1562. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280150131051.
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SUBSTANCE abuse can be thought of as a maladaptive response to personal and interpersonal difficulties in which drug overuse becomes a way of life preferable to the actual life situation. The life situation may really be chaotic and hopeless or boring and meaningless, or it may simply be perceived to be so by the young person. At any rate, life goals, rewarding activities, the ability to enjoy and look ahead to a fulfilling future do not exist.

To provide alternative options to a life-style of drug dependence, the substitute activities ought to be pleasure-giving or be significant now or in the foreseeable future. The principle of providing alternatives to drug abuse has been summarized as follows: "Major inroads on drug abuse cannot be made by stressing the undesirability of drugs. It can only be done by offering more desirable alternative involvements—activities, life-styles and satisfactions which are more rewarding than drug


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