[From Rick Marken (951116.1230)]
We learn in order to control better (to reduce the ambient error existing
in control systems that are not controlling very well).
Chris Cherpas (951116.1047 PT)--
So what happens the first time somebody tries, let's say, crack cocaine?
Suddenly, there's a very "important" reference level to maintain. How did
the new reference level get there?
I've never seen any evidence that there is "suddenly" a very important
reference level to maintain after trying a drug? You seem to be saying that
ingestion of crack cocaine causes a reference (want) for more of it. I'm
pretty sure that it doesn't work that way.
The person who takes crack for the first time already has a reference for
ingesting the substance; the person is controlling for "taking crack" (this
could be tested; just try to prevent the person from taking it, by pulling
his arm as he starts to inject, or whatever ). The person taking crack for
the first time doesn't have a reference for the particular perceptual
consequences of taking the drug because he doesn't know what they are yet.
But I can think of many reasons why a person might control for taking crack,
not all of which involve controlling for the possible consequences of the
drug itself. For example, the person might be controlling for a perception of
himself as "avant garde" and ingests the drug in order to control that
perception of himself.
Whether a person continues to take crack or not after the first experience
probably depends a lot on why it was taken in the first place. If it was
taken to prove that you are "avant garde", then it may never be taken again.
If it was taken because you thought it might get rid of pain (massive error)
and it does, it will probably be taken again abd again; the person will keep
reseting the reference for ingesting crack whenever he is in pain.
Addiction (presistant use of crack in higher and/or more frequest doses)
probably results from two different factors: 1) the drug elimites error and,
hence, the need to reorganize further - - ie. the need to learn to control
anything other than ingestion of crack and 2) the drug probably has
phyiological and physical consequences that make it necessary for the person
to increase the dosage if the drug is to have the desired effect.
The idea that one shot of a drug leads to addiction is a stimulus-response
view of behavior; it suggests that the drug (stimulus) causes addiction
(response). It is a good example of bad science in the service of stupid
social policy (the "war" on drugs).