Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Aspects of drug use ambivalence

Since the release of my book Working with Drug and Alcohol Users a number of people have raised an interesting theoretical question with me. It relates to this diagram of drug use ambivalence.

Drug ambivalence

Some have asked why is it the Free Child that does not want to use drugs and the Adapted Child aspect of the personality that does want to use drugs?  This is a good question and has highlighted a need for more clarification.

My response is that the diagram shown above is for those who have problematic drug use. Those people who are using drugs in such a way that it advances some negative aspect of their life script. Those people who are using drug so that they suffer psychologically.


However as I mention in my book there is quite a sizable group who use drugs and alcohol in a non problematic way. They use drugs and alcohol such that their life script is not advanced and they and their relationships are not damaged in any significant way. The best example of this would be the recreational drug user who I discuss at length in the book. For this type of drug and alcohol user the following ego state diagram would probably be a better representation of the theory behind the recreational drug user.

Recreational drug use ego states
As the drugs are not being used in a destructive fashion it would not be seen as a function of the Adapted Child ego state. Therefore one could put it as a Free Child activity. Also with this type of user there is little or no ambivalence as the drug use is not a problem and thus the person has little motivation to stop it.

Other ambivalence
With further consideration one can also formulate another kind of ambivalence where two ego states are in conflict with each other. Some people and indeed certain groups think that drugs (and at times alcohol) are wrong. It is wrong or immoral to use drugs regardless of whether they harmful to the individual or not. 

Ciggie woman

These views it could be said to reside in the Parent ego state thus making the following form of drug use ambivalence. Thus the person would experience some kind of internal conflict. Two different aspects of the personality both want opposing things. In this case to use drugs and to not use drugs. This view can be found in some religious groups or temperance leagues in particular.

Parent & FC ambivalence


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