Why Do Humans Use Drugs?

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,252
Likes
8,934
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
#1
This article suggest that humans adapted to survive in harsh environments through drug use, which helped ensure the survival of the species.

Link is dead. See later post for access info and content.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

punychicken

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Mar 1, 2002
Messages
374
Likes
7
Points
49
#2
On the basis of it their argument can be shown to tie in with the ideas put forward by deveraux in his book ‘the long trip’. Maybe the use of substances increased the amount neurotransmitters and gave the early humans a glimpse of something relating to godhood in relation to a previous state of mind, which is reflected (as deveraux shows) in the art produced. Doors of perception and all that…

As for enabling the users to endure harsh environments. This can be validated(maybe the wrong word!) by the apparent staying up all night on speed, Es etc(though refined drugs) that users exhibit(and the use of plants like the article suggests).

The thing that might draw fire is the “Consuming plants containing substances that mimic neurotransmitters could have helped make up for the shortfall, Sullivan and Hagen speculate” bit… could be grabbed by the moral majority and used to argue that people are taking drugs because they want to improve themselves or get brainy the easy way or something.

:confused:
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
12,534
Likes
14,162
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
#3
The MIA article cited in Rynner's March 28, 2002 post can be accessed via the Wayback Machine.

Here's the text ...
Drug use linked to ancestors' habits

If drugs are so bad for us, why do so many people use them? Because they helped our ancestors survive, argue two anthropologists. ...

Our predilection for psychotropic substances is usually seen as a biological accident. The conventional view is that drugs fool the brain into thinking it is getting a reward when in fact it is not.

But anthropologists Roger Sullivan of the University of Auckland and Edward Hagen of the University of California at Santa Barbara point out that our ancestors were exposed to plants containing narcotic substances for millions of years. In the April issue of Addiction, they argue that we are predisposed to drug-taking because we evolved to seek out plants rich in alkaloids.

Consuming such plants could have been a basic survival strategy. "Stimulant alkaloids like nicotine and cocaine could have been exploited by our human ancestors to help them endure harsh environmental conditions," Sullivan says.

For example, until recently Australian Aborigines used the nicotine-rich plant pituri to help them endure desert travel without food. And Andeans still chew coca leaves to help them work at high altitudes.


Freebasing drugs

Archaeological evidence shows that drug use was widespread in ancient cultures. Betel nut, for example, was chewed at least 13,000 years ago in Timor, to the north of Australia. Artefacts date the use of coca in Ecuador to at least 5000 years ago.

Many of these substances were potent: pituri contains up to five per cent nicotine, whereas tobacco today contains about 1.5 per cent. What is more, these drug pioneers sometimes "freebased" drugs by chewing them together with an alkali such as lime or wood ash. This releases the free form of the drug and allows it to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream.

But in Pacific cultures where chewing betel nut is still widespread, it is seen more as a source of food and energy than as a drug, Sullivan says. And some drugs do have real nutritional value.

For example, 100 grams of coca leaf contains more than the US recommended daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamins A, B2 and E.


Larger doses

And in some marginal environments, people's diets may have been so poor that they struggled to produce enough neurotransmitters of their own. Consuming plants containing substances that mimic neurotransmitters could have helped make up for the shortfall, Sullivan and Hagen speculate.

They say this part of their theory could be tested by depriving animals of certain neurotransmitters and seeing if they then choose to eat food rich in substitutes.

Sullivan's adaptive model of drug use is definitely plausible, says Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland, who until recently was head of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney.

"There is certainly evidence that plants evolved to mimic the neurotransmitters of mammals," he says. "But the problem today is that we have much larger doses of much more purified drugs."
SOURCE: https://web.archive.org/web/20030409092430/http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992095
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
25,386
Likes
20,921
Points
309
Location
HM The Tower of London
#4
Remember the experiment on the rats who'd choose pleasure over food to the extent of starving to death?

Recent thinking is that as the poor things were bored out of their little skulls, all wired up and immobilised with nothing to do, they were bound to make poor ratty life-choices. Same applies to humans.
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
6,731
Likes
4,036
Points
259
#6
First, the definition of a 'drug' is very hazy. Is food a drug? It changes your body when you take it. We also take a lot of drugs as medication. In some cultures the line between 'psychoactive' and 'medicinal' drugs is blurred (as it is, arguably, in such mood-altering agents as antidepressants). Other drugs are useful for other reasons. Tea helps us feel refreshed and a bit more awake. Alcohol can help ease social interactions. (I'm never sure what tobacco is supposed to do.)

So some drugs have clear functions, and as good a reason as any other tool for humans to use them ('why do humans use hammers?'). Then we come to the so-called 'recreational' drugs, which are of course various in type and effect. Most of these are used for a desired mental or social effect. This too is not unusual in human behaviour - we do all sorts of things for fun or adventure, such as riding rollercoasters, hang-gliding, watching movies, LARPing, you name it.
 

INT21

Antediluvian
Joined
Jul 18, 2016
Messages
5,538
Likes
4,012
Points
229
#8
How about we change the title to 'Why do people use mind altering narcotics' ?

What is there to misunderstand in that. ?

INT21.
 

Tempest63

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
479
Likes
976
Points
99
#9
How about we change the title to 'Why do people use mind altering narcotics' ?

What is there to misunderstand in that. ?

INT21.
Or...why do people love getting stoned/pissed/out of their tiny minds?
 
Top