Rationale

An over view of the History of Drug Use

It is a well-known but often ignored fact in mainstream discourses on drug use that psychoactive substances have been consumed throughout history. Long before the world economy felt the impact of globalization of money, markets and products, drugs moved internationally from producer countries in less developed areas of the world to consumer countries that were usually more developed. Opium use, for instance, can be traced across civilizations for about 8,000 years [1]. Drugs have been used by athletes since the days of the ancient Greeks when mushrooms and other substances were taken to improve performances[2].

The historical examples of opium, morphine, heroin and cocaine show how the blurring of the idea of a remedy that was intended to cure with its opposite effect, which turned out to be hazardous to the user’s health. This ambiguity continues to go well beyond the definition of a substance forbidden by law, since the extent of prohibition has varied greatly over time.

CDUN acknowledges that drug use has always been associated with human history and CDUN accepts that Drugs have much to do with human behavior and experience, involving the self and the others on a continuum between medical pain and social pleasure,[3] as an inescapable part of the fallible social human condition.

Origins of Social Marginalization

During the nineteenth century, deviance was thought to originate in a person’s genes and was explained by the characteristics of the person and his or her personality, cognitive abilities or behavioral skills. It was only in the 1960s that sociologists argued that deviance was not part of an individual’s actions but is perceived and defined by society and persons who internalize it.

When a condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interest, its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media and Socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions. Till now these have had more serious and long-lasting repercussions and further enforce the negative legal and social policy and the way DUs  conceive themselves.

Any deviance from the norm is co-constructed by society and the individual whether he or she accepts or refuses the label. In this case, the label is “Drug User”, “Addict”, “Junkie” etc.

CDUN believes that the existence of the drug problem is largely the attitude of the majority of the public.[4] , [5], [6]and the answer lies in how we write drug laws, who writes the drug laws, and how drug laws and law enforcement are used as political tools by people at every level of government.[7]

Sociologists and criminologists argue that we socially construct “the criminal” by selectively deciding which crimes to prosecute and which criminals to punish[8]. As a society we selectively enforce our laws and selectively hold people accountable for their actions. Many people who engage in criminal behavior are not punished because as a society we don’t pursue them with the same ferocity we pursue the behaviors of others. Both crime and “the criminal” are socially constructed.[9] This is well Illustrated by the fact that the use of Drugs by  itself is a victimless crime.

 

[1]A. G. Hess, “Deviance theory and the history of opiates”, The International Journal of the Addictions, vol. 6, No. 4 (1971), pp. 585-598.

[2]The social construction of drug debates, David Dingelstad, Richard Gosden, Brian Martin and Nickolas Vakas, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia, Published in Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 43, No. 12, 1996, pp. 1829-1838.

[3] UNODC- Drugs, addiction, deviance and disease as social constructs, K. KLAUE, Researcher, Institutuniversitaire de médecinesociale et préventive, Lausanne, Switzerland, Bulletin On Narcotics, Volume LI, Nos. 1 and 2, 1999, https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/bulletin/

[4] E. Goode and N. Ben-Yehuda, “Moral panics: culture, politics and social construction”, Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 20 (1994), pp. 149-171.

[5]K. Humphreys and J. Rappaport, “From the community mental health movement to the war on drugs”, American Psychologist, vol. 48, No. 8 (1993), pp. 892-901.

[6] UNODC- Drugs, addiction, deviance and disease as social constructs, K. KLAUE, Researcher, Institutuniversitaire de médecinesociale et préventive, Lausanne, Switzerland, Bulletin On Narcotics, Volume LI, Nos. 1 and 2, 1999, https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/bulletin/

[7]Nathan Palmer, Socially Constructing Drug Users, Dealers, and Convicts, Socialogy in Focus, http://sociologyinfocus.com/2012/11/socially-constructing-drug-users-dealers-and-convicts/

[8]Western, Bruce. 2006. Punishment and Inequality. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

[9]Socially Constructing Drug Users, Dealers, and Convicts-By Nathan Palmer, Sociology in Focus, http://sociologyinfocus.com/2012/11/socially-constructing-drug-users-dealers-and-convicts/

WE ARE ASSOCIATED WITH

Coalition of Drug Users in Nepal

Address: Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu, Nepal

P0.Box: 9999

Phone: + 977 - 9803407732 (President)

Email: info@cdunepal.org