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Am J Psychiatry 1985; 142:1259-1264
Copyright © 1985 by American Psychiatric Association


SPECIAL ARTICLES

The self-medication hypothesis of addictive disorders: focus on heroin and cocaine dependence

EJ Khantzian

Recent clinical observations and psychiatric diagnostic findings of drug-dependent individuals suggest that they are predisposed to addiction because they suffer with painful affect states and related psychiatric disorders. The drugs that addicts select are not chosen randomly. Their drug of choice is the result of an interaction between the psychopharmacologic action of the drug and the dominant painful feelings with which they struggle. Narcotic addicts prefer opiates because of their powerful muting action on the disorganizing and threatening affects of rage and aggression. Cocaine has its appeal because of its ability to relieve distress associated with depression, hypomania, and hyperactivity.


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