Illicit Drugs: Use and Control

Illicit Drugs: Use and Control

Illicit Drugs: Use and Control

Illicit Drugs: Use and Control


Illicit drugs and their use are a dominant concern of politicians, policy makers and the general public. As such, this second edition of the popular Illicit Drugs: Use and Controlprovides a timely, up-to-date discussion of the key issues raised in the first edition, whilst also providing new chapters which address:

  • Class, gender and race
  • The geo-politics of illicit drug production and distribution
  • Britain's drug use within a global context

Drawing information from wide-ranging sources, Adrian Barton illuminates the complex nature and broad impact illicit drug use carries in its wake and provides an overview of the contemporary state of the drug 'scene'.

This accessible book, with its inclusion of new pedagogical features, will be essential reading for students and researchers working in the area of drugs and society.


It has been about seven years since the publication of the first edition of this work. In that time we have seen some change and some continuity in the field of illicit drug policy and attempts to control illicit drug use and supply: the content of the work reflects this – some chapters remain broadly the same whilst others are new in order to update and reflect current thinking in the area.

Illicit drug ‘problems’ fall into a number of discrete but connected areas. For example, organisationally, is illicit drug use a medical or law and order problem? Philosophically, how can we prohibit some mind-altering substances yet openly promote others, and even use them as an integral part of some Christian ceremonies? Strategically, should we seek to stop illicit drugs at the point of production, point of entry into the country, at the point of distribution or the point of consumption? Economically, are we prepared to subsidise replacement crops in developing nations in order to prevent production of opium or coca? Educationally, do we aim for zero use or promote a harm minimisation approach? Tactically, do we fight a ‘war on drugs’ or negotiate an ‘honourable peace’? So it goes on.

What we are dealing with is a subject area that encompasses a range of academic disciplines and thus provides myriad opportunities to analyse quite specific aspects of the illicit drug scene. For instance, illicit drugs can, and have, been examined using the disciplines of history, sociology, criminology, economics, medicine, politics and geo-politics, philosophy, and policy studies. There are also elements of geography and anthropology evident in some works. It is even possible to use literary criticism to analyse illicit drug use! The result can be a bewildering amalgam of facts and directions, each with an important part to play, but somewhat confusing when viewed as separate entities.

The aim of this book remains the same as its predecessor; that is, draw together some of those disparate threads and provide the reader with a broad overview of the history, development and contemporary state of the British ‘drug scene’. Inevitably, such an approach to a subject area occasionally sacrifices detail at the expense of inclusion. The contention here is that specific detail surrounding, say, the link between drugs and crime can be found in . . .

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