Response to Addiction: A Social Policy of Benign Neglect in Industrial Societies

  • Ann Weick
  • Arthur Katz


Social policy related to drug use is anything but clear, factual or straightforward. In looking at social responses to drug addiction, we begin with several interesting paradoxes. The issue of definition is one which is immediately tainted. As Eric Goode suggests, “a drug is something that has been arbitrarily defined by certain elements of society as a drug” (Goode, 1972). As whimsical as this may sound, distinctions are made between drugs and responses to drugs that have virtually nothing to do with their pharmacological impact. If one compares the effect on body tissues of heroin and morphine, it can be seen as essentially the same by pharmacological standards. However, morphine is viewed as valuable while heroin is seen as a vicious menace (Goode, 1972). In the early 1940’s, cocaine, outlawed since 1914, was found to share striking similarities with amphetamines (Pakkanen, 1973). Historically there is also evidence to show the changing views regarding the same drug. Cocaine was lauded by Freud and others as a substance of unparalleled merit. Until its own addictive qualities were fully recognized, it was seen as a useful antidote for those suffering from morphine addiction.


Social Response Drug User Social Control Illegal Drug Minority Group Member 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann Weick
    • 1
  • Arthur Katz
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social WelfareUniversity of KansasUSA

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