This study adopts the perspective of the Self-Determination Theory to look at the psychological experience of drug users and their decisions to take drugs or not, with particular emphasis on the concept of relatedness. To achieve this objective, a qualitative methodology was employed to explore the experiences of these drug users regarding how they take drugs and/or relapse. Theory-driven thematic analysis was employed to identify themes related to this topic. Results show that one's psychological need for relatedness is an important determinant of whether one will take drugs or not, via the interaction mechanisms that exist in dimensions of affiliation and intimacy. While drug taking is a result of the modeling behavior existing in affiliated relationships, it is also a coping strategy for the ultimate satisfaction of psychological needs when human relatedness disappears. The implication is that significant others can develop unconditionally warm, caring, and empathetic supportive relationships with drug users, so as to enhance their fulfillment of psychological needs and reduce the risk of drug relapse.
Keywords: drug addiction; drug relapse; psychological need; relatedness; self-determination Theory.