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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Psycho-Social Motivations for the Initial, Continuing, and Discontinuing Use of Marihuana and the Psychedelic Drugs.

Goodwin, Lloyd G., Jr. (1974).
Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University.

ISBN: none

Description: Hardcover, unpublished doctoral dissertation, vi +128 pages.

Contents: Abstract, acknowledgments, list of tables, 4 chapters, Appendices: 1. [instrument] Form I. Motivations for the Initial, Continuing, and Discontinuing Usage of Drugs (Specifically Marihuana and the Psychedelic Drugs, 2. [instrument] Form II. Motivations for the Initial, Continuing, and Discontinuing Usage of Drugs (Specifically Marihuana and the Psychedelic Drugs), 3. Social and Demographic Characteristics of Group I -- Psychedelic Drug Users, 4. Social and Demographic Characteristics of Group II -- Professionals and Paraprofessionals Working in Drug Related Areas, references.

Note: Available from UMI, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI, in both full page and half page sizes, in either soft cover or hard cover, also in microfilm.

Excerpt(s): One-hundred and seventy-nine past and present psychedelic drug users and 134 drug abuse workers were asked to rank 25 reasons for the initial and continued use of marihuana and the psychedelics, as well as 14 reasons for discontinuing their use. This study reflects why people use and discontinue the use of marihuana and the psychedelics and indicates also that the users and drug abuse workers basically agreed as to these psycho-social motivations. (page i)

Of the 158 psychedelic drug users 39% considered themselves to be experimenters, 46% social users and 10% regular users.

When asked if they felt they had benefited from the use of marihuana 75% answered yes and 13% answered no. When asked the same question of the 158 psychedelic drug users concerning their use of psychedelics 70% felt they had benefited form its use and 16% felt they had not. (page 61)

An important reason for many users to first take psychedelics is the "desire for a mystical, spiritual or religious experience." This reason was ranked 7th by the users and 10th by the drug abuse workers. (pages 72,74)

Why people continue to use psychedelic drugs. The most important reason for continuing use of the psychedelic drugs for both users and drug abuse workers was "for its mental or physiological effects (like feeling, tasting, and seeing differently; hallucinations; to get "high")," (Table 10).

Table 10
Comparison of Rankings: How 157 Users Ranked Why They Continue (Continued)
To Use Psychedelic Drugs Versus How 134 Drug Abuse Workers (DAW)
Ranked Why Most People Continue to Take Psychedelic Drugs
Users DAW Reason
1 1For its mental or physiological effects (like feeling, tasting, and seeing differently; hallucinations; to get high").
4 2Self-searching or self-understanding.
3 3To expand growth potential (increase awareness, raise consciousness, self-actualize, be creative, etc.)
10 4For the experience.
65Simply like it.
26To increase the enjoyment of certain activities (like movies, plays, music, rock, festivals, food, etc.)
77Desire for a mystical, spiritual, or religious experience.
98For the thrill of it.
1710To get my head together (instant self-analysis).
1211Situational (like when friends get together).
1812To increase sexual satisfaction.
1613My own psychological hang-ups.
1314Reinforces my decision to drop out of straight society.
2015Promotes sociability, friendship and makes it easier to rap with people.
1118When I get uptight (to ease pressures from school, work, growing up, and other hassles).
24 19To relax.
1420Group conformity or identification.
1521Because we are in a drug oriented society.
2322To show myself or friends that I was not afraid to try it.
1923Rebellion (against parent, authority, tradition, or convention).
2524Drug education (in school and mass media).
2225Influence from family member (relative, parents, brothers or sisters).

Psychedelic drug taking for a "mystical, spiritual or religious experience" is a relatively important reason for continued use (7th) as it was for an initial motivation (7th). The drug abuse workers agreed and also ranked it 7th. (pages 76-78)

Why people discontinue the use of psychedelics. A larger percentage of people discontinue the use of psychedelics (31%) compared with marihuana (13%).

The number one reason why 144 people either quit or would quit using psychedelics is because they "don't know what you're [they're] getting (adulterants)." The 131 drug abuse workers who ranked these same reasons put "adulterants" lower on their ranking (6th). "Adulterants" had little importance on the marihuana discontinuance ranking (12th).

As with marihuana (ranked 3rd), users quit, or would quit using psychedelics because they "don't like to lose control of self" and was ranked 2nd by both users and drug abuse workers.

Another important reason for discontinuing the use of psychedelics, as with marihuana (ranked 1st), was because they got into or might get into "alternative drugless turn-ons (Yoga, meditation, Guru, religion, nature, life, etc." and was ranked 3rd by users and 5th by drug abuse workers. (page 83)

The implications of this research study have a wide range of applicability. In the interest of pure research this study reached an underground population that is quite difficult to study. Most studies related to psychedelic drug use by Ss [subjects] taken from mental hospitals, in psychotherapy, in prisons, jails, or in schools, because of their availability. As the psychedelic drug user who ends up in a mental hospital, in psychotherapy, or in prison is atypical, most research in this area is based on an atypical, non-representative sample where all kinds of psychopathology are sought and, in many instances, are found.

However, because of the illicit nature of psychedelics, Ss who use them are not readily available for research purposes and the researchers have to use the samples they can most readily obtain.

Also, in any drug abuse effort, whether it be aimed at primary prevention, drug education or rehabilitation, it is essential to first know why a substantial portion of our society are taking drugs. This study provides some basic information on the motivations for psychedelic drug taking behavior which can be used for prevention, education, and treatment of drug abuse. (pages 99-100)

Compilation copyright © 1995 – 2001 CSP

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