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This debate style reader is designed to introduce students to controversies in drug use and misuse in contemporary society. The readings, which represent the arguments of leading social scientists, health care professionals, and social commentators, reflect a variety of viewpoints, and are formatted into a "pro" and "con" framework.
Goldberg, Raymond : State University of New York at Cortland
PART I. DRUGS AND PUBLIC POLICY
Issue 1. Should Drugs Be Legalized?
New! YES : Ethan A. Nadelmann, from "Commonsense Drug Policy," Foreign Affairs
NO : James A. Inciardi and Christine A. Saum, from "Legalization Madness," The Public Interest
Ethan A. Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center, maintains that the war on drugs has been futile and counterproductive. He feels that drug abstinence cannot be achieved through legal mandates and that a pragmatic approach is needed. University of Delaware professor James A. Inciardi and his associate Christine A. Saum contend that the war on drugs is not a failure and that legalizing drugs would worsen drug-related problems.
Issue 2. Should the United States Put More Emphasis on Stopping the Importation of Drugs?
YES : Barry McCaffrey, from The National Drug Control Strategy, 1997
NO : Mathea Falco, from "U.S. Drug Policy : Addicted to Failure," Foreign Policy
Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, argues that the importation of drugs must be stopped to reduce drug use and abuse. He maintains that a coordinated international effort is needed to combat the increased production of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Mathea Falco, president of Drug Strategies, a nonprofit policy institute, asserts that the emphasis should not be on curtailing the availability of drugs but on factors that contribute to Americans' use of drugs. She contends that blaming other countries for drug-related problems in the United States is one way for politicians to deflect criticism from themselves.
New! Issue 3. Should Congress Impose a Lower Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit for Drunk Driving?
New! YES : Paul D. Wellstone et al., from "Should Congress Pass a .08 Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Drunk Driving Standard? Pro," Congressional Digest
New! NO : Trent Lott et al., from "Should Congress Pass a .08 Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Drunk Driving Standard? Con," Congressional Digest
U.S. senator Paul D. Wellstone and his colleagues argue that the federal government should support a law establishing .08 as the national blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for drunk driving. Prompted by the thousands of deaths caused annually by people driving under alcohol's influence, they contend that there are fewer fatal automobile crashes in states with a .08 BAC standard. U.S. senator Trent Lott and his colleagues maintain that establishing BAC standards should be left to individual states, not to the federal government. They argue that their opponents' desire to mandate a national standard for BAC is another example of the federal government overstepping its boundaries.
New! Issue 4. Should Needle Exchange Programs Be Supported?
New! YES : David Vlahov and Benjamin Junge, from "The Role of Needle Exchange Programs in HIV Prevention," Public Health Reports
NO : Office of National Drug Control Policy, from "Needle Exchange Programs : Are They Effective?" ONDCP Bulletin No. 7
In their review of various studies, professor of epidemiology and medicine David Vlahov and Benjamin Junge, evaluation director for the Baltimore Needle Exchange Program, found that needle exchange programs successfully reduced the transmission of the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, many people who participated in needle exchange programs reduced their drug use and sought drug abuse treatment. The Office of National Drug Control Policy, an executive agency that determines policies and objectives for the U.S. drug control program, sees needle exchange programs as an admission of defeat and a retreat from the ongoing battle against drug use, and it argues that compassion and treatment are needed, not needles.
Issue 5. Should Pregnant Drug Users Be Prosecuted?
YES : Paul A. Logli, from "Drugs in the Womb : The Newest Battlefield in the War on Drugs," Criminal Justice Ethics
NO : Sue Mahan, from Crack Cocaine, Crime, and Women : Legal, Social, and Treatment Issues
Paul A. Logli, an Illinois prosecuting attorney, argues that it is the government's duty to enforce every child's right to begin life with a healthy, drug-free mind and body. Logli maintains that pregnant women who use drugs should be prosecuted because they may harm the life of their unborn children. Writer Sue Mahan asserts that the prosecution of pregnant drug users is unfair because poor women are more likely to be the targets of such prosecution. Mahan argues that instead of treating these women as criminals, both society and these women would be better served by the provision of adequate prenatal care and treatment.
New! Issue 6. Should Young People Be Taught How to Use Marijuana?
New! YES : Marsha Rosenbaum, from "`Just Say Know' to Teenagers and Marijuana," Journal of Psychoactive Drugs
New! NO : Wayne Hall and Nadia Solowij, from "Adverse Effects of Cannabis," The Lancet
Marsha Rosenbaum, director of the Lindesmith Center in San Francisco, California, supports teaching young people how to use marijuana responsibly in order to reduce the potential problems of marijuana use. She argues that telling young people that they should not use marijuana and relating horror stories connected to its use have not reduced marijuana use. Writers Wayne Hall and Nadia Solowij maintain that marijuana causes numerous medical, psychological, perceptual-motor, and academic problems and that its use should be discouraged.
Issue 7. Is Harm Reduction a Desirable National Drug Control Policy Goal?
New! YES : Robert J. MacCoun, from "Toward a Psychology of Harm Reduction," American Psychologist
NO : Robert L. DuPont and Eric A. Voth, from "Drug Legalization, Harm Reduction, and Drug Policy," Annals of Internal Medicine
Robert J. MacCoun, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, supports efforts to minimize problems associated with drugs. He states that a harm reduction approach will not resolve all drug problems, but he feels that reducing those problems is a desirable goal. Clinical professor of psychiatry Robert L. DuPont and clinical assistant professor Eric A. Voth argue that there is insufficient evidence that a policy of harm reduction is beneficial and that the notion of harm reduction is just another way for some people to rationalize legalizing drugs.
Issue 8. Should Tobacco Products Be More Closely Regulated?
New! YES : Edward L. Koven, from Smoking : The Story Behind the Haze
NO : John Hood, from "Anti-Smoking War Could Deny Consumers Choice," Consumers' Research
Writer Edward L. Koven asserts that current restrictions on tobacco products are minimal compared to restrictions on other products. He also contends that the negative effects of smoking tobacco, especially secondhand smoke, justify more restrictive regulations, such as banning tobacco use in public places. John Hood, vice president of the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, argues that the tobacco industry is already heavily regulated, that smokers should have the freedom to choose to smoke, and that the Food and Drug Administration is attempting to intrude too much into the lives of individuals.
PART II. DRUGS AND SOCIAL POLICY
Issue 9. Should Marijuana Be Legal for Medicinal Purposes?
New! YES : Lester Grinspoon and James B. Bakalar, from Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine, rev. and exp. ed.
New! NO : Robert L. DuPont, from The Selfish Brain : Learning from Addiction
Professor of psychiatry Lester Grinspoon and law lecturer James B. Bakalar argue that anecdotal evidence indicates that marijuana has medical benefits for patients suffering from chemotherapy nausea, AIDS, glaucoma, chronic pain, epilepsy, and migraine headaches. They assert that the federal government is prohibiting its use without justification. Robert L. DuPont, a clinical professor of psychiatry, contends that the medicinal value of marijuana is questionable and inconclusive. He maintains that the many people who support marijuana use for medical purposes are ultimately looking for a way to establish marijuana use for nonmedical purposes.
Issue 10. Should Doctors Promote Alcohol for Their Patients?
YES : Stanton Peele, from "Should Physicians Recommend Alcohol to Their Patients? Yes," Priorities
NO : Albert B. Lowenfels, from "Should Physicians Recommend Alcohol to Their Patients? No," Priorities
Psychologist Stanton Peele, an expert on alcoholism and addiction, asserts that physicians should recommend that their patients drink alcohol in moderate amounts. He maintains that numerous studies demonstrate the benefits of moderate alcohol use in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Albert B. Lowenfels, a professor at New York Medical College, contends that recommending moderate alcohol consumption is not prudent, especially since many people come from families with histories of alcohol abuse. He argues that it is inappropriate to extol the merits of moderate alcohol use to people who have abstained throughout their lives.
Issue 11. Is Nicotine Addictive?
New! YES : Janet Brigham, from Dying to Quit : Why We Smoke and How We Stop
NO : Richard J. DeGrandpre, from "What's the Hook? Smoking Is More Than a Chemical Bond," Reason
Janet Brigham, a research psychologist at SRI International in Menlo Park, California, maintains that nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug and that overcoming addiction to tobacco is as difficult as overcoming addiction to alcohol, heroin, or cocaine. She also argues that calling nicotine dependence a "habit" minimizes its addictiveness. Assistant professor of psychology Richard J. DeGrandpre contends that cigarette addiction is due to social, cultural, and economic factors and not because of physical dependence on nicotine. DeGrandpre asserts that nicotine replacement to help people stop smoking is not especially effective and that it is not just the nicotine that smokers desire when they light up a cigarette.
Issue 12. Are Too Many Children Receiving Ritalin?
YES : Richard Bromfield, from "Is Ritalin Overprescribed? Yes," Priorities
NO : Jerry Wiener, from "Is Ritalin Overprescribed? No," Priorities
Harvard Medical School professor Richard Bromfield contends that physicians are often too eager to prescribe Ritalin for children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Bromfield is concerned that Ritalin's long-term effects have not been adequately researched and that its overuse may be masking other childhood disorders. George Washington Medical School professor Jerry Wiener maintains that Ritalin has been proven to be safe and effective. Wiener argues that attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is underdiagnosed in many instances and that children who could benefit from the use of Ritalin often do not receive it.
Issue 13. Is Prozac Overprescribed?
YES : Mark Nichols, from "Questioning Prozac," Maclean's
NO : Nancy Wartik, from "Prozac : The Verdict Is In," American Health
Writer Mark Nichols states that many physicians prescribe Prozac too readily and that Prozac is used too often for ordinary problems of daily living such as discontent and irritability. He contends, moreover, that its long-term effects are not known and that some people experience negative psychological reactions while on Prozac. Health and psychology writer Nancy Wartik maintains that Prozac is helpful for treating chronic depression, especially among women, and that Prozac's purported dangers are overexaggerated. She asserts that if there were less adverse publicity surrounding Prozac, more people could benefit from its use.
PART III. DRUG PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Issue 14. Should the Food and Drug Administration Prohibit Tobacco Advertising?
YES : Richard W. Pollay, from "Hacks, Flacks, and Counter-Attacks : Cigarette Advertising, Sponsored Research, and Controversies," Journal of Social Issues
New! NO : Jacob Sullum, from "Cowboys, Camels, and Kids," Reason
Richard W. Pollay, a professor of business, argues for greater regulation of the tobacco industry because it has a history of presenting misleading and inaccurate information. He also maintains that cigarette advertising influences the perceptions, attitudes, and smoking behavior of young people. Journalist Jacob Sullum disputes the contention that cigarette advertising influences young people to start smoking. He maintains that there is no proof that a ban on advertising would have any impact on smoking rates.
Issue 15. Is Total Abstinence the Only Choice for Alcoholics?
YES : Thomas Byrd, from Lives Written in Sand : Addiction Awareness and Recovery Strategies
New! NO : Stanton Peele, from "All Wet," The Sciences
Professor of health Thomas Byrd maintains that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provides more effective treatment for alcoholics than psychiatrists, members of the clergy, or hospital treatment centers. Byrd contends that AA is the most powerful and scientific program, in contrast to all other therapies. Psychologist Stanton Peele questions the effectiveness of AA and supports instead alcohol treatment programs that are tailored to meet the different needs of alcoholics. Peele argues that for some alcoholics, the concept of a lifetime of abstinence may be counterproductive and that many alcoholics are capable of controlling their drinking behavior.
Issue 16. Is Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) an Effective Program?
YES : Michele Alicia Harmon, from "Reducing the Risk of Drug Involvement Among Early Adolescents : An Evaluation of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)," Evaluation Review
New! NO : Richard R. Clayton et al., from "DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) : Very Popular but Not Very Effective," in Clyde B. McCoy, Lisa R. Metsch, and James A. Inciardi, eds., Intervening With Drug-Involved Youth
Researcher Michele Alicia Harmon reports that Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) had a positive impact on fifth-grade students in terms of attitudes against substance abuse, assertiveness, positive peer association, association with drug-using peers, alcohol use within the previous year, and prosocial norms. Drug researchers Richard R. Clayton et al. maintain that despite DARE's popularity, it does not produce less drug use among its participants. They argue that the money that is spent by the federal government to fund DARE could be used for more effective drug prevention programs.
Issue 17. Should the Decision to Use Anabolic Steroids Be Left to Athletes?
YES : Ellis Cashmore, from "Run of the Pill," New Statesman and Society
NO : Joannie M. Schrof, from "Pumped Up," U.S. News and World Report
Sociology professor Ellis Cashmore argues that the notion that anabolic steroid use violates the rules of fair play is illogical because competition has never been predicated on fair play. Joannie M. Schrof, an associate editor of U.S. News and World Report, asserts that athletes who take anabolic steroids are not fully aware of the drugs' potential adverse effects.
New! Issue 18. Does Drug Abuse Treatment Work?
New! YES : John B. Murray, from "Effectiveness of Methadone Maintenance for Heroin Addiction," Psychological Reports
NO : Robert Apsler, from "Is Drug Abuse Treatment Effective?" The American Enterprise
Psychology professor John B. Murray contends that drug abuse treatment, especially methadone maintenance, has been shown to reduce illegal opiate use, curtail criminal activity, and lower rates of HIV infection. Assistant professor of psychology Robert Apsler questions the effectiveness of drug abuse treatment and whether or not drug addicts would go for treatment if services were expanded.
New! Issue 19. Are Antidrug Media Campaigns Effective?
New! YES : Barry McCaffrey, from Testing the Anti-Drug Message in Twelve American Cities : National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, Phase I (Report No. 1)
New! NO : David R. Buchanan and Lawrence Wallack, from "This Is the Partnership for a Drug-Free America : Any Questions?" Journal of Drug Issues
Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), argues that the attitudes and behaviors of young people regarding drug use are affected by antidrug media campaigns. He therefore supports the federal government's spending millions of dollars for antidrug public service announcements. David R. Buchanan, an assistant professor of community health studies, and professor of health education Lawrence Wallack argue that antidrug media campaigns are not only ineffective but may result in a backlash. They maintain that many drug-prevention messages are inaccurate, and they question the value of the scare tactics that are part of most antidrug announcements.
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