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The Self-Medication Hypothesis

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MITOSIS: An International Collaborative Study of the Self-Medication Hypothesis

Cedric E. Genestet, B.Sc.
Centre for Duncanian Studies
Thames Valley University

MITOSIS stands for Multinational Information Taxometric Overview of Students’ Intake of Substances. This is a unique cross-cultural research project investigating young people's drug consumption patterns. It already spans more than ten different European countries so far, but is currently expanding to Asia, Africa and America.

Substance abuse and substance dependence are direct and indirect life hazards of great societal cost. They are linked to a wide array of psychopathologies. However, the exact nature of this relationship is still to be clearly uncovered. Does substance abuse exacerbate psychological problems or is it the reverse: psychopathologies lead to the use of self-medication?

The Self-Medication Hypothesis (SMH) proposes that dependence on psychoactive substances such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine or heroin results when individuals relieve their psychopathological symptoms by these drugs.
Previous authors that have attempted to test the self-medication hypothesis, have mainly done so by looking for association between mental disorders, such as those expounded in the ICD-10 or the DSM-IV, and dependence on a particular substance. Recent findings in the field of psychopharmacology indicate that such relationships are far too simplistic, and do not take into consideration the complexity of pharmacological phenomena such as the rebound effect and other non-linear associations between substance use and psychopathologies (Khantzian, 1997).

That is why the MITOSIS project attempts to find drug/disorder relationship at a more complex level. Disorders are too large constructs to yield significant results. Hence, psychopathological symptoms are investigated instead and put in relation with the effects of drugs rather than considering whether or not a person is addicted to a psychoactive substance.

The MITOSIS project relies on the voluntary participation of undergraduate and postgraduate collaborators across the world. Undergraduate and postgraduate students of more than ten different countries have decided to collaborate on this MITOSIS project. This is a unique cross-cultural research project investigating young people's drug consumption patterns. It already spans more than ten different European countries and is expanding to Asia, Africa and America.

For more information on the MITOSIS Project and on the possibility of becoming a collaborator consult:

MITOSIS website

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