Drugs, Desire, and a Nation of Users
- PUBLISHED: October 2017
- SUBJECT LISTING: Health, Science and Technology Studies, Politics
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 240 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 19 b&w illus.
- ISBN: 9780295742328
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Whether drinking Red Bull, relieving chronic pain with oxycodone, or experimenting with Ecstasy, Americans participate in a culture of self-medication, using psychoactive substances to enhance or manage our moods. A “drug-free America” seems to be a fantasyland that most people don’t want to inhabit.
High: Drugs, Desire, and a Nation of Users asks fundamental questions about US drug policies and social norms. Why do we endorse the use of some drugs and criminalize others? Why do we accept the necessity of a doctor-prescribed opiate but not the same thing bought off the street? This divided approach shapes public policy, the justice system, research, social services, and health care. And despite the decades-old war on drugs, drug use remains relatively unchanged.
Ingrid Walker speaks to the silencing effects of both criminalization and medicalization, incorporating first-person narratives to show a wide variety of user experiences with drugs. By challenging current thinking about drugs and users, Walker calls for a next wave of drug policy reform in the United States, beginning with recognizing the full spectrum of drug use practices.
Authors & Contributors
Ingrid Walker is associate professor of American studies at the University of Washington, Tacoma.
Preface: Breaking User Silence
Introduction | We Are All Users
1. Picture a Drug User
Jim: Feeding My Family
2. Criminalization: Winning the Crusade but Losing the War
Jason: The Little Engine That Could
Marcus: Reflections of a Philosopher-Cop on the Drug War
3. Medicalization: Defining Drug Use
Lucius: Not What You Think
Nadine: Like a Storm
Jose: The Cure
Brittany: Ask Your Doctor
4. Why We Use: The Pleasure and the Eros of Drugs
Bonnie: Evening Smoke
Cosmo: What Could Be
Mark: It’s Not What, It’s How
Kyla: Note from a Socially Integrated Drug User
High is a thoughtful analysis of the ways we--and our institutions--perceive and interact with people who use drugs. What took me a decade to learn, Walker unpacks in one reading: how misconceptions about drug users' experiences fuel destructive policies that delegitimize our justice system and limit the prosperity of entire communities.- Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)
Through lively and original stories that highlight the vital role pleasure plays in controlled drug use, Walker urges us to move beyond the failures of drug policy rooted in prohibition.- Rebecca Tiger, author of Judging Addicts: Drug Courts and Coercion in the Justice System
High sets out to upend both the punitive prohibitionist war on drugs and most forms of medicalization that have often posed as the more scientific and human alternatives.- Craig Reinarman, coeditor of Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice and Expanding Addiction
A fresh approach to drug policy discussions.- Nancy Campbell, author of Discovering Addiction: The Science and Politics of Substance Abuse Research