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The American Drug Culture

The American Drug Culture

January 2018 | 416 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The American Drug Culture uses sociological and other perspectives to examine drug and alcohol use in U.S. society. The text is arranged topically rather than by drug categories and explores diverse aspects of drug use, including popular culture, sexuality, legal and criminal justice systems, other social institutions, and mental and physical health. It covers alcohol, the most widely used drug in the United States, more extensively than other texts on this subject. The authors include case studies from their own field research that give students empathetic insights into the situations of those suffering from substance and alcohol abuse. 


About the Authors
Chapter 1: Introduction: Sociological and Other Explanations for Drug and Alcohol Use and Abuse
The Growing Nationwide Opioid Epidemic

Sociological Explanations

Criminological Explanations

Feminist Approaches

Other Perspectives

Researching Drug and Alcohol Use

Chapter 2: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs
The War on Drugs and the Federal Schedules

“Good Drugs” and “Bad Drugs”: The Media, Labeling, and the Changing Image of Marijuana

Is There a Drug Epidemic? Trends in Drug Use

Chapter 3. Drinking Alcohol: The Alcohol Culture
Ideological Alcohol Culture

Behavioral Alcohol Culture

Material Alcohol Culture

Social Functions of Drinking

Brief History of Drinking in America

Drinking and Occupations

Chapter 4: Alcohol and Social Institutions
Alcohol and the Family

Alcohol and Religion

Alcohol and Education

Alcohol and Government

Alcohol and Public Opinion

Chapter 5: Benefits and Costs of Alcohol
Benefits of Alcohol

Costs of Alcohol

6. Alcohol in Popular Culture
Depictions of Drinking and Alcohol in Art

Movies and Television


Alcohol and Music


Alcohol and Literature

Drinking Games


Chapter 7: Alcohol and Sexual Behavior
Drinking and Disinhibition

People and Places: Drinking Contexts and Sexuality

Chapter 8: Alcoholism
Perspectives On and Explanations of Alcoholism

Becoming Alcoholic

Relapse and Abstinence Cycles

The Family and Alcoholism

Treating Alcoholism

Chapter 9: The History of Drug Use in America and Attempts to Control it
The Origin of Hashish and the Persian Assassins

Chinese Opium Wars

Controlling Drug Use

The Geneva International Commission

Medicalizing Drug Use

The Drug Abuse Warning Network

The Marijuana Controversy

Chapter 10: Drugs in Popular Culture

Literature and Poetry




Movies and Television

Relationship between Licit and Illicit Drug Use and the Media

Relationship Between Marijuana, Heroin, and Other Harder Drugs: Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?

Chapter 11: Becoming a Drug User: Careers, Personalities, and Interaction - Two Perspectives
A Psychotherapeutic Approach

A Reporter’s Observations

A Sociological Perspective

Chapter 12: The Business of Drug Use: Crime and Law Enforcement
The Mexico–U.S. Drug Connection

Drugs and Secondary Deviance

Women and Drug Dealing

Crack Dealing

Drugs and the Mafia

Drug Cartels and the Market for Drugs

Law Enforcement

Medical Professionals and Drugs

Chapter 13: Prevention and Treatment of Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders
Prevention Efforts

Programs Directed at Youth

Diversion: Drug Court


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Rehabilitation Program Studies

Informal Self-Help Programs: Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous

Therapeutic Communities

Methadone Maintenance

An Innovative Approach

Unconventional Approaches

Appendix A: Case Histories: Alcohol Abusers
Appendix B: Case Histories: Drug Abusers

“[The American Drug Culture] addresses professionals and substance use, an important topic. It also provides case studies, which is very useful.”

Jane Nichols
Southern Illinois University
Key features


  • Two opening chapters introduce readers to the theories and perspectives used by social scientists to study drugs and alcohol, and to the larger trends in legal and illegal use of controlled substances.
  • Six chapters on alcohol provide comprehensive coverage of the most widely used and abused drug in America.
  • Lively discussions of alcohol and drugs in American popular culture brings the topic to life and relatable.
  • Two appendices contain case histories from the authors’ field research of individuals with alcohol and substance use disorders.

Sage College Publishing

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