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J Subst Abuse. 1994;6(2):219-26.

Beliefs about the causes of substance abuse: a comparison of three drugs.

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  • 1Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Respondents were randomly assigned to one of three conditions and completed a questionnaire asking about their beliefs regarding the causes of alcohol abuse, cocaine abuse, or cigarette smoking, and about their humanitarian attitudes toward substance abusers. Three major findings emerged: (a) compared to the other substances of abuse, the disease concept was most strongly endorsed for alcohol abuse, the sin conception for cocaine abuse, and the habit conception for smoking; (b) for alcohol abuse only, endorsement of the disease concept was positively related to humanitarian attitudes; and (c) for all three substance types, the sin conception was negatively related to the expression of humanitarian attitudes. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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