The History of Addiction/recovery-Related Periodicals in America: Literature as Cultural/professional Artifact

By Weiner, Barbara; White, William | Contemporary Drug Problems, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

The History of Addiction/recovery-Related Periodicals in America: Literature as Cultural/professional Artifact


Weiner, Barbara, White, William, Contemporary Drug Problems


Can significant changes in the addictions field be identified by examining its specialized literature? Are political, economic, and cultural changes surrounding addiction and its treatment mirrored in its literature? In this paper an addictions historian! author (William White) and an addictions librarian/information professional (Barbara Weiner) examine the past 150 years of addiction/recovery history by analyzing the literature of the field. Over 250 American journal, magazine, and newsletter titles were examined for their focus, audience, and years of publication to identify important trends and cycles reflected in addiction/ recovery-related periodical literature.

KEY WORDS: History, addiction literature, periodicals, journals, recovery publishing.

The story of a profession can be told through an exploration of its history, language, values, rituals, symbols, and literature. This paper combines the expertise of an addictions librarian and an addictions treatment/recovery historian to describe the evolution of addiction/recovery-related periodicals (ARPs) over the past 150 years. It explores what the periodic rise, changing character, and fall of ARPs reveal about the larger history of addiction treatment and recovery in America. The alcohol and other drugs problems field is made up of diverse functions and institutions-formal prevention and treatment programs, informal mutual aid groups, scientific research institutes, personal growth movements, public policy bodies, education and advocacy agencies, and professional associations representing physicians, nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers. Addictions periodicals play an intregal part in linking these various constituency groups. We will examine the history of the addictions periodicals that have served to link these groups.

This is not the first effort to step back and examine ARPs. Andrews and Cohen (1979) and Boxenbaum and Jaffe (1982) provided independent reviews of the emergence of addiction-- related periodicals that were birthed in the 1970s. These early review articles were followed by analyses of the evolving topical focus of articles in ARPs (Moll and Narin, 1977; Van Ruyven and Veenstra, 1993), analyses of the impact of particular ARPs via citation analysis within the broad arena of addiction literature (Jones, 1999), guides on where to publish addiction-related research manuscripts (Arciniega and Miller, 1997), and trend analyses of issues such as the rise of multiple authorship in ARPs (Jones, 1996; Howard, 1992; Howard and Walker, 1996).

This paper is distinguished from these earlier efforts in three ways. First, it views this genre of literature within a much longer historical perspective. Second, it provides a widened perspective on ARPs by including-in addition to peerreviewed journals-professional trade journals, magazines, and newsletters for both professionals and general readers. Third, it suggests that trends in ARPs provide a subtle window of exploration into past and emerging trends in the alcohol and other drugs problems arena.

I. Methodology

We began this study by attempting to assemble a listing or chronology of all American ARP literature for the past 150 years. Collections utilized included the Illinois Addiction Studies Archive housed at Chestnut Health Systems in Bloomington, IL (http://www.chestnut.org), the Hazelden Library and Information Resources collection in Center City, MN (http:llwww.hazelden.org/library), and the online listing for the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute of Seattle, WA (http://depts.washington.edu/ada il). Also examined were Ulrichs International Periodicals Directory 2000, the Serials Directory: An International Reference Book 1999, the OCLC database, and serendipitous approaches such as word of mouth and advertisements. Our list of ARP titles continued to be expanded and updated until the paper was finalized in October 2001.

"ARP" was defined to include journals, newsletters, and government items-anything produced in serial and periodical form rather than monographic form. …

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