Creating the American Junkie: Addiction Research in the by Caroline Jean Acker

By Caroline Jean Acker

Heroin was once just one drug between many who apprehensive innovative period anti-vice reformers, yet via the mid-twentieth century, heroin dependancy got here to represent irredeemable deviance. growing the yank Junkie examines how psychiatristsand psychologists produced a building of opiate addicts as deviants with inherently wrong personalities stuck within the grip of a dependency from which few could ever break out. Their portrayal of the cruel city addict helped bolster the federal government's coverage of drug prohibition and created a social context that made the lifetime of the yankee heroin addict, or junkie, extra, no longer much less, precarious within the wake of innovative period reforms.Weaving jointly the bills of addicts and researchers, Acker examines how the development of habit within the early 20th century used to be strongly encouraged by way of the pro issues of psychiatrists trying to raise their clinical authority; by means of the disciplinary objectives of pharmacologists to construct a drug improvement infrastructure; and by way of the yank scientific Association's crusade to minimize prescriptions of opiates and to absolve physicians in deepest perform from the need of treating tough addicts as sufferers. against this, early sociological reviews of heroin addicts shaped a foundation for criticizing the criminalization of dependancy. via 1940, Acker concludes, a selected configuration of principles approximately opiate habit used to be firmly in position and remained primarily reliable till the big demographic adjustments in drug use of the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies caused alterations within the knowing of addiction—and in public coverage.

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The main impact of the suppression of prostitution was to make life harder on all involved (except, presumably, the reformers and the en- 22 Creating the American Junkie forcers). One messenger boy reported that in the immediate aftermath of Blankenburg’s call to close down the brothels, he “had lots of calls to take suit-cases from the houses to the railroad stations. ”19 Those prostitutes who stayed in Philadelphia were pushed out of the brothels where they had shared their lives with other women under the supervision of a madam who perhaps combined financial exploitation and sympathetic treatment; they were increasingly likely to be managed by pimps.

The centrality of this issue to their breakup suggests so, but the point was not pursued. The interviewing psychiatrist consistently discussed homosexuality only obliquely, either describing certain male patients as effeminate or noting perfunctorily the absence of “perverted relations” in male patients’ sexual histories. They argued and separated; depressed, she resumed morphine use. Her husband sought a reconciliation but was discouraged to learn she was using drugs. Mary returned to her marriage, continuing to use drugs, but her husband’s concern prompted her to seek treatment again, this time at Philadelphia General Hospital.

As America industrialized and urbanized, immigrants flowed into its cities from southern and eastern Europe to take jobs in factories and in the retail and amusement venues that were becoming increasingly prominent features of American downtowns. Social life in working-class urban neighborhoods was profoundly transformed, provoking a variety of responses from older middle-class and elite groups, including the settlement house movement and an anti-vice reform movement, which centered its concerns on prostitution but also agitated to prohibit the sale of narcotics.

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