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Drugs, Intoxication and Society

ISBN: 978-0-7456-3533-0
224 pages
January 2009, Polity
Drugs, Intoxication and Society (0745635334) cover image

  • Why do people use drugs?
  • What happens when people are intoxicated?
  • Are we being medicated into normality?

Drugs and intoxication have been facts of human life for millennia. Across the world, many people use illicit drugs, smoke, and drink alcohol. Yet very little has been written about their experiences.

Academics, politicians and media reporting on the topic tend only to consider intoxication when it manifests as a social problem. This book takes a more nuanced view, and examines drug and alcohol use from a wider number of perspectives. It discusses issues such as the history of drug and alcohol use, the attractions of intoxication to individuals, and the control and regulation of drugs and their users. It also examines evidence for the rise of the so-called ‘pharmaceutical society’, and asks whether society is on the cusp of a revolution in psychoactive substance use.

This engagingly written text will make fascinating reading for upper-level students taking a range of courses, including social work, social policy, the sociology of drugs, deviance and social control, and drugs and crime. It will also appeal to researchers and anyone working with drug and alcohol users looking for a level-headed analysis of the pleasures and pains, highs and lows, of substance use.

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  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Defining Drugs in Society
  • Chapter 2: Drugs and Alcohol in Historical Perspective
  • Chapter 3: Customs, Cultures and Experience of Intoxication
  • Chapter 4: Drug Problems, Abuses and Addiction
  • Chapter 5: Governing Drugs and their Users
  • Chapter 6: Lifestyle Medicines and Enhancement
  • Chapter 7: Drugs in a Culture of Intoxication
  • Bibliography
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    Angus Bancroft is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh.
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  • Original and radical look at the place of drugs in society.
  • Looks honestly at drugs and intoxication, removing the smog of taboo and prejudice, to discover the social factors that promote drugs use and the labelling of drug users as deviant.
  • Examines the full range of drugs – from coffee through illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine to twenty-first-century self-improvement and lifestyle drugs such as Viagra.
  • Discusses the rise of a ‘pharmaceutical society’ which defines new ‘problems’ and ‘conditions’ that require the creation and everyday consumption of yet more new drugs.
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    "In this thoughtful journey through the obfuscations of drug narratives we learn that intoxication is after all an indelible aspect of ourselves."
    Sociology

    "[A] fascinating and nicely subversive dissection of a universal behaviour - well worth reading."
    Alcohol & Alcoholism

    “Interesting, provocative and highly readable - Bancroft provides a critical text that works as a useful antidote to the coverage of drugs in more cautious and conventional accounts.”
    Nigel South, University of Essex

    “Bancroft does an extraordinary job of reviewing the relevant literature and he makes excellent use of historical and cross-cultural examples in building a case for a contructionist understanding of drugs.”
    Robert Heiner, Plymouth State University

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