Reducing the risks of drug use: the case for set and setting

Phil Dalgarno, David Shewan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The central proposition of this article is that if people are thoughtful, well-prepared and aware of the means and best environments for using a particular drug, then the risks associated with the use of a particular drug – any drug – can be minimal. The types of drugs discussed in this context focus on those assumed to be the most ‘addictive’ – heroin and cocaine – to those less well-known but potentially more hazardous to use without prior knowledge and preparation – such as Yage and Fly Agaric. This proposition is discussed in the context of different definitions of relatively non-problematic patterns of drug use, specifically: controlled, recreational and unobtrusive. It is concluded that while the effect of taking a particular drug is a primary motivation to the user, the role of set and setting are of fundamental importance in ensuring that the effects of that drug are as intended for and expected by the user.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-65
Number of pages7
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


  • controlled drug use
  • set and setting
  • addictive
  • risk


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