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The Swedish drug problem: conceptual understandingand problem handling, 1839–2011
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
2014 (English)In: Nordisk Alkohol- og narkotikatidsskrift (NAT), ISSN 1455-0725, E-ISSN 1458-6126, Vol. 31, no 5-6, 503-526 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

AIM – To analyse the Swedish drug question by examining dominant concepts used to portray theproblem in the years 1839–2011. Theoretically, we understand these concepts as ideological toolsthat shape the political initiatives and administrative efforts to deal with the problem. The studyis based on two kinds of source material: articles in medical journals from the years 1839–1964and public reports on vagrancy, the alcohol problem, mental health and the drug problem fromthe years 1882–2011.

FINDINGS – During the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century the drugproblem remained an individual problem handled by doctors. When the Swedish drug problemwas established as a political question from the 1960s on, it also came to disengage itself from themedical frame of understanding. Medically oriented descriptions of “dependence” and “addiction”have appeared adequate or attractive when, for example, the socially motivated coercive treatmentsolution has been discredited (as in the 1970s), when there has been a desire to connect with aninternationally accepted terminology (as in the 1990s) or when a new organisational model with astronger professional support has been on the agenda (as in the 2010s). But otherwise the socialproblem description has called for concepts that have more or less explicitly dissociated themselvesfrom speculations in physiological or psychological predispositions for substance abuse.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 31, no 5-6, 503-526 p.
Keyword [en]
Sweden, history, 20th century, 19th century, drug problem, concepts
National Category
Sociology Substance Abuse
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110552DOI: 10.2478/nsad-2014-0044ISI: 000346344900005OAI: diva2:772352
Addictions and Lifestyle in Contemporary Europe – Reframing Addictions Project (ALICE RAP)
EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme, 266813
Available from: 2014-12-16 Created: 2014-12-16 Last updated: 2015-01-19Bibliographically approved

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Edman, JohanOlsson, Börje
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