in the UK
Demystifying Drugs analyses the assumptions behind different viewpoints in the drug debate, and argues that social experiences must be given greater precedence if we are to understand substance-influenced behaviour. The author examines different theories of the essential nature of drug misuse and presents data showing differences in the psychosocial backgrounds of problematic consumers, recreational consumers and abstainers. Based on extensive participant observation research, a life-history model has been developed to explain why very few of those who come into contact with narcotics become problematic consumers. The model covers four stages in the deviant career: parental labelling and societal labelling, both of which are initiated prior to drug consumption; and secondary deviance and the deviance spiral which develop after the individual starts using drugs. After presenting and critically examining prohibition and harm-reduction paradigms, the life-history model is utilized to suggest further drug-policy options.
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