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Drug Alcohol Depend. 1985 Nov;16(2):169-80.

Social policy and drug dependence: an historical case study.


A detailed examination is presented of the background to the reports and policy developments concerning drug dependence which emerged in Britain during the 1960s. Analysis of documents and interviews with policy makers, officials and doctors involved in the events of the period, reveal that explanatory models in terms of 'moral panic' or 'power struggle' tend to oversimplify the complex processes involved. The role in policy formation of the media, government departments and groups within the medical profession is considered. The patterns of conflict and convergence are seen to overlap simple lines of 'interest'--we find conflict within the medical profession, convergence between the Home Office (legal) and elements of the medical professions (medical). The resulting legal and institutional framework involved only loose guidelines from the centre about treatment, and the shape of policy was determined by individual doctors in the new hospital treatment centres. The apparent re-run of the 1960s being staged in the 1980s will require detailed research in the future in order to avoid superficial comparisons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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