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Drug Policy and the Public Good$
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Thomas F. Babor, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Griffith Edwards, Benedikt Fischer, David R. Foxcroft, Keith Humphreys, Isidore S. Obot, Jürgen Rehm, Peter Reuter, Robin Room, Ingeborg Rossow, and John Strang

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557127

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557127.001.0001

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Matters of substance

Matters of substance

(p.13) Chapter 2 Matters of substance
Drug Policy and the Public Good

Thomas Babor

Jonathan Caulkins

Griffith Edwards

Benedikt Fischer

David Foxcroft

Keith Humphreys

Isidore Obot

Jürgen Rehm

Peter Reuter

Robin Room

Ingeborg Rossow

John Strang

Oxford University Press

Psychoactive substances have assumed increasing public attention in most parts of the world, especially when they are defined broadly to include alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and certain types of legal pharmaceutical agents that have high dependence potential. The effects these substances have on individuals and society depend on a variety of factors, including the pharmacological properties of each drug, the way the drugs are ingested, their cultural meanings in everyday life, the reasons for using them, and the harms associated with their misuse. Public discussion of drug policies has too often failed to take these complexities into account. Simplistic views that all drugs are the same and all are equally dangerous not only limit our understanding of drug-related problems but also impair our ability to develop meaningful policy responses. Advances in psychiatry, psychology, neurobiology, cultural anthropology, epidemiology, and a variety of other disciplines have substantially increased our understanding of psychoactive drugs, drug actions, and drug misuse. This chapter addresses these fundamental ‘matters of substance’ in order to set the stage for the chapters to follow.

Keywords:   substance abuse, psychoactive substances, drug use, drug abuse, legal substances

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