Drugs and Narcotics in History

Drugs and Narcotics in History

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This collection of essays explores the complex and contested histories of drugs and narcotics in societies from ancient Greece to the present day. The Greek term pharmakon means both medicament and poison. The book shows how this verbal ambivalence encapsulates the ambiguity of man's use of chemically-active substances over the centuries to diminish pain, fight disease, and correct behaviour. It shows that the major substances so used, from herbs of the field to laboratory-produced synthetic medicines, have a healing potential, and have been widely employed both within and outside the medical profession. The boundary lines between use and abuse in society have been powerfully contested, while 'alternative' medicine has often sought to develop milder, purer, or more natural drugs. Clearly, these issues remain unresolved today: some highly addictive and dangerous substances such as cigarettes remain freely available, others are available only on prescription, while others are illegal and the objects of international contraband trade and the targets of 'drugs wars'.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 2 b/w illus.
  • 1139240668
  • 9781139240666

Table of contents

Notes on contributors; Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. The opium poppy in Hellenistic and Roman medicine John Scarborough; 2. Exotic substances: the introduction and global spread of tobacco coffee cocoa tea and distilled liquor sixteenth to eighteenth centuries Rudi Matthee; 3. Pharmacological experimentation with opium in the eighteenth century Andreas-Holger Maehle; 4. The regulation of the supply of drugs in Britain before 1868 S. W. F. Holloway; 5. Das Kaiserliche Gesundheitsamt (Imperial Health Office) and the chemical industry in Germany during the Second Empire: partners or adversaries? Erika Hickel; 6. From all-purpose anodyne to marker of deviance: physicians' attitudes towards opiates in the United States of America from 1890 to 1940 Caroline Jean Acker; 7 Changes in alcohol use among Navajos and other Indians of the American Southwest Stephen J. Kunitz and Jerrold E. Levy; 8. The drug habit: the association of the word 'drug' with abuse in American history John Parascandola; 9. Research and development in the UK pharmaceutical industry from the nineteenth century to the 1960s Judy Slinn; 10. AIDS drugs and history Virginia Berridge; 11. Anomalies and mysteries: the 'War on Drugs' Ann Dally.
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Review quote

"The essays are informed, incisive, and reflective, each one historically valuable, each presenting its subject in a broad social and intellectual context. Each may contain lessons useful in today's confrontation with a continuing problem." New England Journal of Medicine "...[the] essays are fascinating, erudite and illuminating...a worthwhile endeavor for the compulsive history reader." Journal of the American Medical Association "Edited books rarely display the uniform excellence found in Drugs and Narcotics In History. It is both a selective history of medicine and an insightful introduction to the place of drugs in Western society. The editors deserve praise for the range of topics and for their deft editorial hand...That harm-reduction policies will suffer in the process is the implicit lesson throughout this superb book. Drugs and Narcotics in History deserves the widest possible audience." The Historian
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