Robert Stephens: Projecting the truth about addiction
Posted on 03-09-2013
Cinema and modern conceptions of drug addiction emerged nearly simultaneously in the late- 19th century. And since the turn of the twentieth century, the visual imaginary of drug addition has had a powerful effect on popular conceptions of drug addiction and public policy. My paper, which grows out of a book-length study of drug addiction in the media, will
focus on the complicated ways in which commercial imperatives, government intervention, industry self-censorship, and changing consumption habits have worked together to define drug addiction as specific set of cultural narratives that bear little resemblance to either changing scientific theories or some kind of tangible, sociological reality. Throughout the
twentieth century and into the twenty-first, the visual representation of drug addiction has been a constant bone of contention. The common concern that has driven much of this debate has been the fear that the mere appearance of drug consumption on film would lead youth down the path to addiction, that it would spark a curiosity that could not be extinguished. This paper will trace the debates over the visibility of addiction since the renewed “War on
Drugs” in the 1980s, focusing on the ways that visible narratives shaped public policy by obfuscating changes in drug use patterns and new scientific insights into addiction.

Under Control?

Location: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

"Under Control? Alcohol and Drug Regulation, Past and Present"  conference was held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 21-23rd June 2013. Under Control? was supported by the Alcohol Research UK; Bowling Green State University; the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, Brock University (Faculty of Applied Health Sciences); the Society for the Study…

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Lifeline Project & FEAD Read more

Welcome to Lifeline and FEAD (Film Exchange on Alcohol and Drugs). This project has been shaped by the wealth of experience, openness, and knowledge of the contributors. You are invited to comment on the clips, which are supported by footnotes to which you can add. FEAD is an ongoing Lifeline Project initiative.

Lifeline Project: In 1971 the Lifeline Project opened a day centre for drug users in Manchester. Since its foundation Lifeline has grown and developed, and now works in a diverse range of settings across the UK. Our purpose is to relieve poverty, sickness and distress among those persons affected by addiction to drugs of any kind, and to educate the public on matters relating to drug misuse.