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The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (6th edn)

Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna, and Lesley McAra
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date: 26 September 2023

p. 70431. Drugs: consumption, addiction, and treatmentlocked

p. 70431. Drugs: consumption, addiction, and treatmentlocked

  • Toby Seddon


The issue of illicit drugs is one of the most difficult and intractable problems we face today. It spans across the globe and is connected with a range of serious issues, including public health, crime, security, inequalities, and development. This chapter explores three key dimensions of the drug problem, in order to provide a critical account, informed by history and theory. First, the human attraction to intoxicating substances is examined and patterns of consumption are described. Second, understandings of why some people develop problems from habitual consumption are examined, exploring in particular the concept of addiction. Third, it explores the different ways in which societies have attempted to help people experiencing drug-related problems through different methods and modes of drug treatment.

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