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Books, Journals, New Media
May 7, 2003

Addiction Policy

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(17):2286-2287. doi:10.1001/jama.289.17.2286

Historian Caroline Jean Acker, in an insightful new look at the past 100 years of American drug policy, has concluded that during the first two thirds of the 20th-century psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers joined with law enforcement authorities to construct the view of heroin addicts as deviants who were caught in a chemical trap from which few would escape. The American Medical Association and the small group of pharmacologists who were creating the modern understanding of the effects of heroin use were in full agreement with this view. Because the treatment of heroin addiction had proven hopeless, the national drug control policy that flowed from this consensus was to block access to heroin and to use the criminal law to punish heroin users. This was the classic era of drug control policy.