Intoxicants, substances that alter a person’s mental and physiological state, are a continuing obsession. In their effect on the mind and body, intoxicants go to the heart of what it means to be human. In the tensions between ‘free’ and uninhibited consumption on the one hand, and the pressures of social regulation and personal responsibility on the other, they also illuminate the daily paradoxes, and sheer complexity, of living in modern Western societies. Yet this complexity, and the rich history that underpins it, is often lost in the current debates over public policy.
Intoxication and Society sets out to supplement the contemporary discourse surrounding intoxication with a more nuanced appreciation of the history and nature of what is very much a multidimensional problem. It does so by employing an interdisciplinary framework that includes contributions from leading academics in law, sociology, anthropology, history, literature, neuroscience and social psychology.
The result is a subtle historical and contemporary rereading of the social construction of intoxication that will provide a secure basis for analysis as society continues to respond to the problematic pleasures of intoxication.