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High: Drugs, Desire & A Nation of Users
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Author(s) :
Ingrid Walker
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Pub Date :
Edition(s) at Erowid :
Publisher :
University of Washington Press
Whether drinking Red Bull, relieving chronic pain with oxycodone, or experimenting with Ecstasy, Americans participate in a culture of self-medication, using psychoactive substances to enhance or manage our moods. A "drug-free America" seems to be a fantasyland that most people don't want to inhabit.

High asks fundamental questions about US drug policies and social norms. Why do we endorse the use of some drugs and criminalize others? Why do we endorse the use of some drugs and chriminalize others? Why do we accept the necessity of a doctor-prescribed opiate but not the same thing bought off the street? This contradictory approach shapes public policy, the justice system, research, social services, and health care and yet drug use remains relatively unchanged.

Ingrid Walker speaks to the silencing effects of both criminalization and medicalization, incorporating first-person narratives to show a wide variety of user experiences with drugs. By challenging current thinking about drugs and users, Walker calls for a next wave of drug policy reform in the United States, beginning with the recognition of the full spectrum of drug use practices.

"High is a thoughtful analysis of the ways we--and our institutions--perceive and interact with people who use drugs. What took me a decade to learn, Walker unpacks in one reading: how misconceptions about drug users' experiences fuel destructive policies that delegitimize our justice system and limit the prosperity of entire communities."
-- Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)

"Through lively and original stories that highlight the vital role pleasure plays in controlled drug use, Walker urges us to move beyond the failures of drug policy rooted in prohibition."
-- Rebecca Tiger, author of Judging Addicts: Drug Courts and Coercion in the Justice System

"High sets out to upend both the punitive prohibitionist war on drugs and most forms of medicalization that have often posed as the more scientific and human alternatives."
-- Craig Reinarman, coeditor of Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice and Expanding Addiction

"A fresh approach to drug policy discussions."
-- Nancy Campbell, author of Discovering Addiction: The Science and Politics of Substance Abuse Research

Ingrid Walker is associate professor of American studies at the University of Washington, Tacoma.