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Concepts of Addictive Substances and Behaviours across Time and Place$
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Matilda Hellman, Virginia Berridge, Karen Duke, and Alex Mold

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198737797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198737797.001.0001

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WHO expert committees and key concepts for drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, 1949–2013

WHO expert committees and key concepts for drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, 1949–2013

Chapter:
(p.57) Chapter 4 WHO expert committees and key concepts for drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, 1949–2013
Source:
Concepts of Addictive Substances and Behaviours across Time and Place
Author(s):

Suzanne Taylor

Virginia Berridge

Alex Mold

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198737797.003.0004

This chapter examines the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) and its expert committees in disseminating concepts around addiction in relation to illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco from 1949 to 2013. Three time periods are surveyed: 1949–1963, when intense discussion of concepts and terminology in relation to drugs and alcohol occurred and the substances were discussed as separate issues; 1964–1989, when the concept of dependence emerged, ushering in the potential for a combined approach to the substances, and also when discussion of tobacco arose; and the 1990s onwards, when a more sustained combined approach to the substances developed and the WHO exercised its constitutional powers to establish an international convention on tobacco. Review of the WHO expert committees demonstrates considerable engagement with concepts and terminology and the importance of the role of the WHO in establishing and shifting the conceptual boundaries between these substances. It highlights increasing linkages between the three substances under consideration; a more combined approach to research and treatment, but differences in control; early involvement with the problems of substance use; and problems involved in the creation of standardized definitions at the international level.

Keywords:   World Health Organization (WHO), expert committees, alcohol, tobacco, smoking, drugs, addiction, dependence, terminology, substance use

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