5 The Social Reaction against Drugtaking
I have linked the problems that individuals face in their daily lives to the specific drug chosen to facilitate their solution. But human action, even although it hurts no one but the agent himself, is seldom free from outside interference and control. In this chapter I shall turn to the final three questions necessary to an explanation of drugtaking. I shall examine why social reaction occurs against drug use and the manner in which it structures and, sometimes, radically alters both the problems the drugtaker faces and the experiences which the drugs themselves induce.
The absolutist social scientist assumes social reaction against the deviant. He does not question, for example, why society reacts against the person who smokes marihuana but not those who smoke tobacco. In contrast, the relativist regards deviancy as not a property inherent in any activity but something which is conferred upon it by others. He turns the searchlight of inquiry, therefore, not only on the drug-taker but also on the people who condemn drugtaking. His interests are consequently wider than the absolutist for he must examine the power structure of society; explaining why certain groups have the ability to proscribe the behaviour of others and in what terms they legitimize their activities.
As an illustration of the importance of social reaction it is useful to examine E. M. Jellinek's1 distinction between Delta and Gamma alcoholism. In France, many workers have a near-intoxicating quantity of alcohol in their bloodstream both day and evening. They do not, however, become obviously drunk although tolerance and withdrawal symptoms not infrequently occur. This Jellinek called Delta alcoholism: for although in a tissue sense these men are alcoholic, such a state is so common in French culture (i.e., it is normal psychotropic behaviour) that no deviant role compounded of intense psychological misery and social rejection occurs. He contrasts this with the Gamma alcoholism of America where stigmatization is intense. Thus the lifestyles of two men, one American, the other French, may be widely at variance despite the fact that each is heavily dependent upon alcohol. It is because of such differences that I have insisted on utilizing a socio-pharmacological approach to the study of drugtaking.
What then are the major factors which determine the intensity, direction and nature of social reaction against the drugtaker ?
The Basis of Reaction
There are three major reasons why there should be reaction against drug use:
(i) Direct Conflict of Interest. Here the drugtaker is seen as directly affecting the interests of certain groups in society. For example, prohibition in America was supported by some industrialists because they felt it would ensure more manageable labour. In contrast, the breweries and distilleries of course staunchly opposed restrictions on the freedom to drink.
(ii) Moral Indignation. A. K. Cohen wrote:
The dedicated pursuit of culturally approved goals, eschewing of interdicted but tantalizing goals, the adherence to normatively sanctioned means — these imply a certain self-restraint, effort, discipline, inhibition. What is the effect of others who, though their activities do not manifestly damage our own interests, are morally undisciplined, who give themselves up to idleness, self-indulgence, or forbidden vices? what effect does the propinquity of the wicked have orithe.peace of mind of the virtuous .?2
What Cohen is arguing is that deviant activities, even although they may have no direct effect on the interests of those who observe them, may be condemned beCause they represent concrete examples of individuals who are, so to speak, dodging the rules. For if a person lives by a code of conduct which forbids certain pleasures, which involves the deferring of gratification in certain areas, it is hardly surprising that he will react strongly against those whom he sees to be taking shortcuts. This is a partial explanation of the vigorous repression against what Sehur calls 'crimes without victims': homosexuality, prostitution, abortion and drugtaking. Following on from this it is interesting to note how the social reaction against a particular form of drugtaking is, in general, proportional to the degree to which the group involved embraces values which are hedonistic and disdainful of work. Conversely, where drugtaking is linked to productivity, either in that it aids work or facilitates relaxation before or after work, it is viewed with much greater favour — if not encouraged. This becomes evident if we take a specific drug and note how social reaction to it varies with the group who use it and the ends which its use facilitates. Thus:
Legal Use. Seventy-two million tablets were issued to British forces during the war to be used to combat exhaustion; astronauts carry stocks in case of emergency; civilians use them on prescription to slim and counteract depression.
Tolerated Use. Benzedrine by medical students to swot for examinations.
Condemned Use. By teenagers to stay awake at all-night clubs and parties.
Tolerated Use. `Social' drinking at business functions or to relax after work at approved leisure times.
Condemned Use. 'Problem' drinking, the clinical definition of which involves the disruption of work habits and marital duties.
Legal Use. Morphine to alleviate pain amongst the sick. Condemnation, but little social reaction. The use of morphine by physician addicts to enable them to continue working. It is true that such addiction is only discovered after admission to hospital for a 'cure' but the retrospective reaction of the doctor's community is usually amazingly slight'.3 Condemnation and harsh reaction. Use of heroin by 'street addicts' for hedonistic reasons.
It is interesting to note how social reaction towards the heroin addict is less punitive in Britain, where addiction is perceived as an unpleasant sickness, than in America where the prevalent image is of the criminal hedonist.
Probably one of the most universally acceptable drugs in the West despite the immense health risk smoking involves. It is one of the few drugs which is tolerated during the performance of many occupational roles and this is directly related to the fact that it does not interfere with efficiency and in fact has a reputation for aiding concentration on the job at hand.
A drug which has been associated in a large number of cultures with hedonistic pursuits which tend to undermine productive roles. It is often precisely on these grounds that a rationale is based for its continued illegality. Thus Sir Aubrey Lewis in his survey of the international clinical literature notes that: 'the degradation that most writers report in the excessive cannabis user is apparent in several ways. He is irritable and impulsive or inert and dreamy; he neglects himself grossly and is incapable of sustained effort; he may become a beggar or a vagrant, taking no responsibilities for his family ...'4 Or as H. Anslinger and W. Tompkins note:
'in the earliest stages of intoxication the willpower is destroyed and inhibitions and restraints are released; the moral barricades are broken down and often debauchery and sexuality occur. ... constant use produces an incapacity for work and a disorientation of purpose." 5
Now — in contrast — an example of socially tolerated marihuana use is the use of bhang: an infusion of the stems and leaves of the hemp plant by Brahmins in India. As Chein et al. put it:
Among the Brahmin priesthood large quantities of bhang may be taken to facilitate entering devotional trances. Although they appear drunk — their co-ordination and gait are grossly impaired, and their orientation in time and place is disturbed — they regard themselves, when under the influence of bhang, as empty of all worldly distractions, concerned only with God. The god Shiva is cited by them as a bhang drinker and a paragon of the contemplative life. The use of bhang is consecrated to achievement of their contemplative and ascetic ideal, to the practice of severe and prolonged austerity, to the withdrawal of their attention from the attractions of the sensible world.6
They contrast the Brahmin use of bhang with the Western use of marihuana, one epitomizing austerity and the other enjoyment and hedonism.
Thus it is not against the use of a drug in itself that repressive measures occur, but only where it is used by groups or individuals with deviant values to achieve ends disapproved of by the dominant groups in society. As Alisdair MacIntyre put it:
Most of the hostility that I have met with occurs from people who have never examined the facts at all. I suspect that what makes them dislike cannabis is not the belief that the effects of taking it are harmful, but rather a horrifying suspicion that here is a source of pure pleasure which is available for those who have not earned it, who do not deserve it.7
The social reaction against drug use, the aim of which is perceived as purely hedonistic and detrimental to the individual's productive capacity, is an example of moral indignation involving a condemnation of those who opt out of the notions of deferred gratification, hard work and responsibility implicit in the basic normative rules of Western society. This clash between groups stressing productive and hedonistic values is central to our understanding of attitudes to drugtaking and it is to this theme that I will return in the next chapter.
(iii) Humanitarianism occurs where powerful groups seek to change the behaviour of others. They act, overtly at least, in the better interests of the socially inferior group they define as a social problem. The group thus designated may or may not accept this designation (cf., sick 'addict' to marihuana smokers). Absolutist social science, however, tends to regard the existence of social problems as undebatable; the question is not which groups are problems? but rather: how can we ameliorate the conditions of groups A, B and C who everyone knows are social problems?
Now humanitarianism is, I would argue, an exceedingly suspect motive; for it is often — though not necessarily — a rationalization behind which is concealed either a conflict of interests or moral indignation. For example, Alex Comfort in The Anxiety Makers 8 has charted how the medical profession have repeatedly translated their moral indignation over certain 'abuses' into a clinically-backed humanitarianism. For example, masturbation was seen as causing psychosis, listlessness and impotence and various barbaric clinical devices were evolved to prevent young people from touching their genital organs.
I want to suggest that there is an absolutist tendency in our society to cloak what amounts to moral or material conflicts behind the mantle of humanitarianism. This is because serious conflicts of interest are inadmissible in a political order which obtains its moral legitimacy by the invocation of the notion of a widespread consensus of opinion throughout all sections of the population. Moreover, unlike in the Middle Ages, we are loath, because of the ubiquitous liberalism, to condemn another man merely because he acts differently from us, providing that he does not harm others. Moral indignation, then, the intervention into the affairs of others because we think them wicked, must necessarily be replaced by humanitarianism which, utilizing the language of therapy and healing, intervenes in what it perceives as the best interests and wellbeing of the individuals involved. Heresy or ungodliness, in short, become personal or social pathology. With this in mind, humanitarianism justifies its position by invoking the notion of an inbuilt justice mechanism which automatically punishes the wrongdoer; thus premarital intercourse is wrong because it leads to VD, masturbation because it causes impotence, marihuana smoking because a few users will step unaware on the escalator which leads to heroin addiction.
The Direction of Reaction
It is commonplace to imagine the reaction to drugtaking as invariably negative, but this is an obvious oversimplification. In the case of the legal psychotropic drugs, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, powerful commercial interests exhort the population to increase their consumption and easily overshadow bodies such as the Temperance Alliance and the British Medical Association which attempt to restrict drug use. The pharmaceutical industry — no mean pressure group — spends considerable sums on the advertisement of tranquillizers, barbiturates and amphetamines available largely through the National Health Service. There is thus a large industry intent on producing and promoting drug use. As far as illegal drugs are concerned, criminal organizations, especially in the United States, attempt to maintain and expand the market. Underground culture in the Western world might be seen as proselytizing the use of marihuana and the hallucinogens and tending to dissuade its members from using 'hard' drugs such as heroin and speed (methylamphetamine).
From the point of view of the policy-maker, of great interest are those negative reactions which have the unintended consequences of maintaining drug use. The psychiatric portrayal of the heroin addict as 'sick', which makes real the fiction of inevitable relapse, and the legal reaction against the marihuana smoker, which merely increases the import of marihuana as a symbol of rebellion, are two of the more blatant instances of such actions.
A common reaction to drug use is that of ambivalence for, as with so many social relationships between 'normal' and 'deviant', the normal person simultaneously both covets and castigates the deviant action. This, after all, is the basis of moral indignation, namely that the wicked are undeservedly realizing the covert desires of the virtuous. Richard Blum captured well this fascination-repulsion relationship to drug use when he wrote:
Pharmaceutical materials do not dispense themselves and the illicit drugs are rarely given away, let alone forced on people. Consequently, the menace lies within the person, for there would be no drug threat without a drug attraction. Psychoanalytic observations on alcoholics suggest the presence of simultaneous repulsion and attraction in compulsive ingestion. The amount of public interest in stories about druggies suggests the same drug attraction and repulsion in ordinary citizens. 'Fascination' is the better term since it implies witchcraft and enchantment. People are fascinated by drugs — because they are attracted to the states and conditions drugs are said to produce. That is another side to the fear of being disrupted; it is the desire for release, for escape, for magic, and for ecstatic joys. That-is the derivation of the menace in drugs — their representation as keys to forbidden kingdoms inside ourselves. The dreadful in the drug is the dreadful in ourselves.9
Moral indignation, then, is based on a conflict of values and desires; its existence explains the remarkable interest in certain drug-using groups despite their minute size. It explains why we are regaled by more information in the mass media about the heroin addict (who presumably is 'enjoying himself') than the methylated spirits drinker (who presumably is too miserable to be attractive), why we hear more of marihuana use than hardcore poverty. It is the social basis of this bifurcation of values that I will attempt to outline in the next chapter.
Who reacts against drug use?
Within modern society there are four major groups who initiate action against the drugtaker: moral crusaders, experts, law-enforcement agencies and the mass media. Each have their own particular motives for their concern.
H. S. Becker used the term 'moral crusaders' to signify those individuals who unite together in order to eliminate social evils from society. Their direct interests are not involved and they usually express themselves in the language of humanitarianism. An example is the Woman's Christian Temperance Union which campaigned successfully for prohibition in the United States. Joseph Gusfield, who has studied such groups, notes that: 'moral reformism of this type suggests the approach of a dominant class towards those less favorably situated in the economic and social structure'.10 It has great concern for the reform of the conditions of the lower classes, in this case indicting the drug alcohol as a blight, both on their health and moral condition. Such a stance, I have suggested, is often simply moral indignation over the behaviour of lower social groups fronted by an air of benign humanitarianism.
This century has witnessed the emergence of a vast array of experts in deviancy. Although the majority of them interpret their subjects in an absolutist fashion, there is still room for a considerable amount of interdisciplinary conflict. It is in the interests of the various scientific bodies — psychiatrists, psychologists, criminologists etc. — to insist that deviant drugtaking comes within the arena of their professional competence. There is a competition, therefore, for government funds, for therapeutic power and for public recognition and attention. Their reaction is, of course, underpinned by moral indignation and humanitarianism, in terms of their own `enlightened' middle-class values.
Law-enforcement agencies often have diiect interests in extending their sphere of influence to control hitherto ignored forms of deviant drugtaking. The classic case is the agitation of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics under Commissioner Harry Anslinger which led to the prohibition of marihuana use in the United States. Donald Dickson'11 has revealed the interests which lay behind the Bureau's political manoeuvres. Anslinger in 1936 faced a situation where the Bureau's budgetary appropriation had decreased by almost 26 per cent in four years. The Bureau's response was to try and appear more necessary; to, in short, widen its scope of opera-. tions. It had previously campaigned successfully for the prohibition of marihuana by State narcotic laws; now it argued that it was necessary to control marihuana on a Federal level. As a result the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed and the up till then declining arrest, conviction and seizure statistics of the Bureau soared. In 1938 one out of every four Federal narcotic convictions was for marihuana violations. Unfortunately for the Bureau its arguments for increased funds were to no avail, for in a few years' time there was to be a massive redirection of income for military purpose. But the Marihuana Tax Act can only be fully understood in terms of the bureaucratic interests of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics at that time.
The mass media in Western countries are placed in a competitive situation where they must attempt constantly to maintain and extend their circulation. A major component of what is newsworthy is that which arouses public indignation. Thus the media have an institutionalized need to expose social problems, to act as if they were the personified moral censors of their readership. Direct interests, moral indignation and humanitarianism blend together inextricably here.
Whatever group initiates the reaction against the drug-taker it is necessary for them to enlist support. Thus groups who have vested interests in drug control are approached and experts are found to confirm in an academic fashion the opinion of the campaigners. At this point if the power of the supporters is insufficient an appeal is made to public opinion. An attempt is made through the media to change the image of the drugtaker to fit in with the new conceptions. Joseph Gusfield 12 describes- a successful transition as the moral passage of a form of deviant behaviour. He cites the case of alcoholism in the United States, where there was a shift in power from the Temperance Movement, who defined heavy drinking as sinful, to experts in alcoholism who defined it as a sickness. Recourse to media is best exemplified by the Federal Bureau of Narcotic's generation of public anxiety about marihuana by inspiring and instigating a large number of articles on the subject in magazines and newspapers.13
There may well, of course, be opposition to the moral crusade. Vested interests and other experts may oppose the control of the drug in question. For instance, in the case of the Marihuana Tax Act there was opposition from hemp-growers and a number of experts. Marihuana users themselves were, however — at that time — of low socio-economic status and unable to exert any pressure on the legislature. Thus the outcome of an attempt at social control of drug use depends on the relative power and ability to drum up support for the campaign.
The Definitions of Reality in which Reaction Occurs
The desire to react against the drug user and the manner with which the reaction occurs depends on two interrelated factors: the theory of why people take drugs held by the campaigners, and their perception of the typical drugtaker.
Criminologists, following in the tradition of Durkheim, note how all human groups, by virtue of their having norms of action and at the same time variation in behaviour, create deviants. There is little point in having rules if you have no rule-breakers; norms occur where there is, at least, a perceived possibility of infraction occurring. Now these deviants perform important functions for groups. They demarcate the boundaries where 'people like us' end and 'people like them' begin. They inform members of the points beyond which their behaviour will be sanctioned. In small societies it is possible for everyone to have at least a modicum of face-to-face contact with their deviant members. In Tonga, for instance, women will gossip about the sexual incapacity and inconsiderateness of heavy Kava drinkers. But in industrial societies, like Britain and the United States, our direct knowledge of, in this instance, deviant drugtakers will for most of us be limited to the man at work who had to go to hospital for alcoholism. Out there, at what is perceived as the edge of society, there will be a varied assortment of drugtakers with whom the average citizen will have very little, if any, contact: methylated spirit drinkers, heroin addicts, marihuana smokers, methylamphetamine users, glue-sniffers, etc. We will have, as in small societies, deviants within our own circle of acquaintances, but we will also be aware of drugtakers who exist completely beyond the normal realms of our daily intercourse. These individuals, like other minority groups, are the subject of immense misperceptions. On to their ill-perceived and indistinct forms are projected the worse fears and most hidden desires of the 'normal' citizen. Although there is invariably a grain of truth in the perception, this is blown up out of proportion into a larger than life fantasy of all the traits that the in-group desires to suppress. The heroin addict is seen as the epitome of enslavement (lack of free will), the marihuana smoker as a pursuer of undeserved yet unspeakable pleasure, the LSD user as a reckless seeker after an extra-mundane world of enlightenment. The stereotypes held are like negatives, which when developed tell us more about the in-group than the drugtaker himself. It is only in this context that it becomes comprehensible — as we shall see later — that the illicit drug user can be conceived of as more threatening than the organized criminal.
The mass media play a major part in the production of such distorted images. For the commercial media, in their attempt to arouse moral indignation, will accentuate, confirm and irritate the scapegoating process which is part and parcel of large-scale societies. The prejudiced individual will, on his part, self-select those newspapers, magazines and programmes which serve to perpetuate his stereotype. Reaction against illicit drugtaking will, therefore, be phrased in terms of particularly biased conceptions of reality.
The actual contact between the user of drugs and the community is mediated through special agencies: the police, the social worker, psychiatrists etc. These individuals play a vital part, therefore, in determining the impact of social reaction on the deviant. The more banal of stereotypes are, therefore, although held by large sections of the population, considerably altered by the time that the drug user encounters the main impact of social control. The police are a possible exception to this rule but even the social worker and psychiatrist hold views which are often merely more conceptually refined, rather than cognitively superior, to those of the man in the street. The paradigm used by the expert is more logically consistent, makes recourse to more substantial 'proof', contains within it a more explicit humanitarianism than the folk-beliefs held within the wider society. But it upholds the same absolutist presumptions; it is based on an identical 'taken-for-granted' world, accepted values and standards current amongst significant sections of the lay population. Whilst the experts may overtly scorn the sensationalist media, they belong in the same universe of discourse, and the elite media of professional journals and learned societies with which they are involved serve to confirm constantly their absolutist premises. Progress is seen to be made: but it is a progress of detail within the matrix of their unchallenged world view rather than the evolution of new and significant interpretations of the social universe.14
It is of considerable importance that we analyse the therapeutic and control strategies of absolutist theory in order to be able to understand the particular terms of reference of the social reaction against specific drugtakers.
The Present Solution
The individual, because of problems which he is unable to resolve via culturally approved ways, adopts illicit drug-taking as a solution. Now the way society, or, to be specific, significant and powerful groups within society, reacts to this initial deviance determines the nature of the environment within which the drug user must survive. Every solution creates in own problems, and new difficulties arise because of social reaction and contradictions within the emerging culture itself, which must in their turn be solved.
It is not a question merely of the forces of social order acting against the drug user and his being buffeted once and for all by this reaction. The relationship between society and the deviant is more complex than this. It is a tightknit interaction process which can most easily be understood in terms of a myriad of changes on the part of both society and the drug user. To take, for example, the relationship between the community and the bohemian marihuana smoker:
(1) A group of young people face a problem of anomie (i.e., their aspirations cannot be realized in a culturally approved manner).
(2) They begin, therefore, to evolve a bohemian culture in order to solve their problem.
(3) Marihuana smoking is chosen as a vehicle for achieving the ends of this new subculture.
(4) Significant groups in the wider community face the problem of controlling undesirable behaviour. That is, behaviour which either threatens their direct interests or offends their moral code.
(5) They perceive the bohemian subculture as just such a threat and attempt to solve this problem by, first, creating support through the mass media and personal contact and, then, by pressurizing the police and courts into taking action against marihuana use amongst bohemians.
(6) The social reaction against the marihuana user creates new problems for the group.
(7) The group adapts and changes in an attempt to solve these problems.
(8) The community reacts against the slightly changed group.
(9) This either increases or decreases the problems of the group and they change and adapt once more.
(to) The community reacts against the new changes and so on. (I have diagramatized this in Table 3 on p. 109.)
Now one of the most common sequences of events in such a process is what has been termed deviancy amplification, the major exponent of which is the criminologist Leslie Wilkins. This is where the social reaction against the initial deviancy of a group serves to increase this deviance; as a result, social reaction increases even further, the group becomes more deviant, society acts increasingly strongly against it, and a spiral of deviancy amplification occurs.15 There are four mechanisms by which such a process can come about. The social reaction against the deviant can progressively increase his problems and therefore demand even more deviant solutions than before. Thus, young people may form bohemian groups because of the meaninglessness and boredom of conventional jobs. After a period of dropout, however, they will find it even more difficult than before to obtain passably interesting work. For their aspirations will have risen and their possibilities declined. They are 'beatniks' with bad work records, whom no one will employ. In terms of drug use this increase in anomie may lead to experimentation with drugs other than marihuana in order to solve their rising problems and perhaps eventual escalation to heroin.16
Drugtaking is a peculiar form of deviancy, in that the activity itself may make it impossible for the individual to re-enter normal society, it is not merely the social reaction against him as a drugtaker. Thus the alcoholic finds that the constant high concentration of alcohol in his bloodstream prohibits his engagement in work where any high degree of conscientiousness and regularity is demanded. His sexual relations with his wife will also suffer. Now, if either his work or marriage was the initial problem which sparked off his heavy drinking, then alcohol may well be a false solution in that it merely aggravates what it was used to placate.'17 W. and J. McCord 18 in their classic study on alcoholism invoke a similar process to this, suggesting that drinking is often engaged upon in order to buttress feelings of masculinity but that constant use serves to undermine the two criteria of male proficiency: marriage and occupation. This leads to a vicious circle where the alcoholic attempts to drown his own inadequacy with the very substance that is making him more inadequate.
Social reaction against illicit drug use can merely serve to inspire the drugtaker with a sense of Otiss social injustice. This happens in the case of bohemian marihuana use where the drug is perceived as innocuous, and police action as uninformed and predatory. The drug comes to be taken subsequently not only for its effects per se but as a symbol of righteous protest. Such commitment to marihuana merely serves to increase public alarm and an amplification of drug use occurs. 19
The fourth type of deviancy amplification spiral is the one utilized by Leslie Wilkins.20 He notes that when a society defines a group of people as deviant, it tends to react against them so as to isolate and alienate them from the company of 'normal' people. In this situation of isolation the deviant is not under the immediate control of the 'normal'. He is able to develop his own norms jid values unimpeded, and, when this occurs, elicits even greater reaction from society with consequent increases in isolation and deviancy in an amplifying spiral.21 Such a situation is, of course, a pre-condition rather than a cause of further deviancy: it allows the possibility of increased drugtaking, it does not necessitate it.
The last spiral is the self-fulfilling prophecy. Here significant social agencies, such as schools of psychiatry or the mass media, misperceive the nature of a specific form of drugtaking. They construct an image of it, hewn and distorted to fit their theoretical pre-conceptions. We have discussed the typical configuration of such absolutist premises in the last chapter. When these agencies have considerable prestige, in the sense of their opinions being accepted as reasonably accurate, and power, in the form of ability to influence legislators, the police, magistrates and therapeutic personnel, these images can have self-fulfilling effects. For if there is an imbalance of power, and the illicit group is unable to withstand the social and ideological onslaughts against it, its behaviour and interpretation of itself can be radically altered. There are three processes which can occur here: internalitation, restructuring and recruitment.
The isolated drugtaker or culturally dependent group may have such insufficient desire or ability to create counter-definitions of themselves that they end up by internalizing the prevailing stereotypes. The housewife who finds herself grossly dependent on barbiturates will turn to her doctor — for want of other alternatives — to find an explanation for her own actions. But society cannot only interpret the actions of others: it can also change these actions by restructuring the social situations that individuals find themselves in. The totalitarian pressures of family and kin, or of therapeutic institutions, are particularly adept at achieving such a metamorphosis. The wife who treats her heavy-drinking husband as 'inadequate' may squeeze him into an 'alcoholic' role. The mental hospital which shears the heroin user of all autonomy will end up creating infantile behaviour similar to the therapeutic conception of the 'addict'. Finally, the stereotypes may reach such a degree of public currency that individuals who fit the descriptions are recruited into drug use. In all these instances the fantasy stereotypes of the powerful and the reality of the illicit drug user become identical:
Each of the five amplification processes acts differently on the opportunities, abilities and desires of the drugtaker. Anomie acts by restricting his opportunities to conform, drug use by reducing his ability to conform, and rebellion by removing his desire to conform. Isolation is a pre-condition for the development of deviant opportunities, abilities and motivations and the self-fulfilling prophecy oceurs where opportunities are forcefully restricted and the individual's identity, and with it his notions of both his desires and abilities, are radically altered in a deviant direction. As to their theoretical status, amplification models are typical sequences of events which state that in such and such conditions A will be followed by B, C, D, E, etc., and which link the stages in terms of established generalizations derived from the sociology of deviant behaviour, e.g., anomie leads to deviant behaviour, or when groups are ideologically and socially weak they will take their identities from powerful surrounding groups. The major advantage of such models is that they do not limit themselves to a notion of linear causality but stress the mutual interaction and feedback between relevant variables. Thus, deviant behaviour does not cause social reaction; rather both increase with increments in each other. A common and misplaced criticism of the deviancy amplification approach is that it makes increased deviancy seem inevitable. This is widely off the mark, however, for by showing in what conditions, in terms of which principles, amplification occurs, they illustrate inevitably the circumstances in which the reverse process is generated. Thus, if society, instead of reacting to increase the anomie of the drugtaker, provides (for example) interesting and remunerative jobs, the individual's problems will be on the way to being solved and a process of deviancy de-escalation will take place. It is only the interest of the criminologist in the 'serious' deviant, and the alarming tendency of modern societies to label permanently offenders after a certain threshold has been reached, which has led to the primary focus on amplification processes.
The different modes of amplification occur to varying extents in different types of drugtaking: it is of prime importance that such processes are separated and understood. It should not be thought, however, that deviant drugtaking groups are, so to speak, pinballs inevitably propelled in an increasingly deviant direction, nor that social agencies of control are like cushions of a machine that will inevitably reflex into action, phased to each minutiae of deviance. To view human action in such a light would be to reduce it to the realm of the inanimate, the non-human. As David Matza has forcefully argued in Becoming Deviant, the human condition is characterized by the ability of people to stand outside of, to exist apart from, the circumstances which impinge upon them: 'A subject actively addresses or encounters his circumstances; accordingly, his distinctive capacity is to reshape, strive towards creating and actually transcend circumstances. '22 The drugtaking group creates its own circumstances to the extent that it interprets and makes meaningful the reactions of society against it. There are three possible attitudes of the taker of illicit drugs towards social reaction. He can neutralize his position by insisting that the drug is in fact innocuous; that it is compatible with respectable values and ought to be legalized. He therefore interprets repressive measures as being due to ignorance on the part of the authorities and actively avoids deviancy amplification by identifying with normal society as much as possible. In particular, he actively rejects attempts at isolation, holds his drug use at a level which does not interfere with 'normal' behaviour, and disdains the images purveyed by experts and the media. He avoids anomie by compartmentalizing his deviancy in the secrecy of his leisure time with a close circle of friends. His position is not that of the rebel but that of the reformer. Thus all five modes of amplification are mollified. An example of such a position would be the growing number of young middle-class professionals who smoke marihuana and hold respectable jobs.
In contrast, the ideological drug user insists that attempts to suppress the use of his particular drug is a significant indicator of the essentially repressive nature of society. The drug represents for him an alternative way of life; legalization, then, is irrelevant, for it is the deviant culture surrounding the drug which is all important. He is especially prone to deviancy amplification, courting rather than regretting the process. Rebellion then is the most important mode of amplification but other mechanisms also operate. Anomie is inevitably raised by virtue of his stance, the cult erected around the drug impairs his ability to act normally, and isolation into deviant communities lessens the impact of conventional forces of social control. The images held by the wider society are, however, scorned and self-fulfilling prophecies occur only if the culture is weak and the impact of social control especially overriding.
The sick drugtaker we have discussed in detail already; he believes the drug to be dangerous and its use contrary to the values of the wider society, which he himself upholds. His position in terms of deviancy amplification is interesting in that he is rejected from society and then held at a distance, ossified into a position which allows neither re-entry nor escape. In the therapeutic situation he is told that either he has deep-rooted personality problems for which he uses drugs as a solution, or he has been infected by the virus of addiction. I have argued that this expert estimation of the problem is often deluded. Its consequences, however, are far from illusory. His aspirations from the social world are regarded as mere surface manifestations of the underlying problem. He is told that he must cure himself, not attempt to change the social structure that he finds himself in. Anomie is therefore successfully mystified and therapeutic attempts are made to reduce it to zero. Rebellion is regarded as misguided and is similarly placated. Neither anomie nor rebellion therefore play a significant role in amplification. Drug-induced amplification does, however, for the sick role emphasizes the individual's inability to control his own actions. This results in an increase in drug use which lowers his actual ability to control his actions, confirming his notions of himself, and entering a spiral similar to Type B in Table 5. The sick drug user is 'not, however, allowed to deviate beyond certain limits: he is maintained within the parameters of the current stereotype. This is achieved usually within a hospital or treatment centre, buttressed by the ready acceptance of the medical metaphor by family and friends. It is thus in terms of self-fulfilment, underscored by drug-induced amplification and facilitated by clinical isolation, that the social forces impinging on the sick drug user must be understood.
Persistence and Change in Drug Use
We are concerned in this last section with the likely outcome of the moral career of the drugtaker. Now there are three factors which determine the continuance of drug use: the severity of the problem which the individual faces, changes in his conception of the problem faced and the social pressure or resistance to him changing. The problem which the individual faces can alter, he can 'mature out' of drug use as he changes his structural position, say, from an unmarried unemployed youth, to a middle-aged married father. For different positions carry with them different problems and the continuing use of the same drug as a solution is unlikely if the position changes markedly. Peter Laurie's tentative thesis about heroin addicts is a case in point. If, as he argues, heroin addiction is entered upon in order to ward off incipient schizophrenia, then the observed voluntary abstinence from heroin of a large number of addicts after the age of thirty-five would suggest that the problem faced has either receded or been overcome.'23 There is a tendency for drug use to be viewed as a progressive enslavement, a Rake's Progress with inevitable and dire consequences. This view is a product of generalization from particular cases which come to clinical notice. Just as only a very few marihuana smokers progress to heroin, a great number of respectable citizens drink exceedingly heavily during certain periods of their life, steadying down once more to the 'social' norm when their problems are over, without spending a lifetime dependent on alcohol. Such individuals have problems which are temporary, and are able to re-enter the ranks of 'normality' without being severely impeded.
The problem faced may remain but the person involved may devise new ways of solving it. Thus the Black Muslims in America, seemingly successfully, cure heroin dependency by substituting a political solution.
Without doubt, however, the most important factor influencing the persistence of drug use is the social reaction which such activities provoke. For it has been my coptention throughout that social reaction contributes significantly to the maintenance, and, indeed, aggravation of the problems which inspired the initial use of drugs. It is a tragic characteristic of modern societies that, after a point, they tend to reject the 'deviant' and proceed to ossify his condition rather than to absorb him. David Cooper sums this up brilliantly when, using the categories suggested by Levi-Strauss, he writes:
There are societies which swallow people up, namely anthropophagic societies, and societies which vomit people out — anthropeomic societies. We then see a transition from, on the one hand, the medieval 'swallowing up' of the child-person in the community, a mode of assimilative acceptance relating to ritualistic cannibalism in `primitive' societies in which the ritual enabled people to accept the unacceptable — particularly death — to, on the other hand, the anthropeomic modern society which ejects from itself all that it cannot draw into accepting the artfully invented rules of its game. On this basis it excludes facts, theories, attitudes, and people — people of the wrong class, the wrong race, the wrong school, the wrong family, the wrong sexuality, the wrong mentality. In the traditional psychiatric hospital today, despite the proclamation of progress, society gets the best of both worlds — the person who is 'vomited' out of his family, out of society, is 'swallowed up' by the hospital and then digested and metabolized out of existence as an identifiable person. This, I think, must be regarded as violence.24
Deviancy amplification is thus commonplace. This is a function of absolutist notions of society from which stem the rider that those people who have been identified as 'truly deviant' are fundamentally different from the well-socialized, balanced citizen. There is no use in either hoping for or encouraging their re-entry because there is little hope of change on the 'deviant's' part. Thus the heroin addict, like the professional criminal, is incorrigible, and once his true colours have been spotted he must be shunned for he will constantly attempt to malign and corrupt others. That the person who is excluded from society will have no choice but to stay deviant, that he is fixed in his position by social reaction, merely self-fulfils absolutist theories.
There are few examples in Western history of illicit or disapproved-of drugs gaining approval or acceptance. When this does happen, as with tobacco, the effects are easily reconcilable with dominant social values. The clandestine drugtaker must therefore either give up the drug he has chosen or remain permanently outside the ranks of legitimate society. If he has been identified legally or therapeutically as a serious drug user, re-entry is difficult. His 'essence' is publicly known and he is regarded with suspicion. What is more, in the case of the 'sick' drugtaker, he himself will tend to believe the expert diagnosis and regard his condition as fairly intractable. The subculture to which he belongs may also heartily support such a belief. Beyond these officially known individuals there is, of course, the vast body of illicit drug users who are theoretically able to voluntarily re-enter respectable society without direct prohibition. But it is not as simple as this: for to renounce a particular drug would demand that an alternative solution had been found to their problems or that the basis of these problems had disappeared. Moreover, although riot 'known' drugtakers, they are at the same time involved in a milder process of deviancy amplification. The hippie, for instance, could give up smoking pot, cut his hair, buy a suit, and pass through the sieve of public scrutiny back into the middle class from whence he came. But repeated social reaction against his way of life increases the problems which initially led him to drug use, confirms his deviant identity by invoking in him righteous indignation, and decreases the value of the rewards that the straight world can offer him if he conforms. It is not necessary for anything as drastic as court action or therapy to occur for deviancy amplification to ensue. It is sufficient that police are hostile, landlords suspicious, strangers jibe at dress and length of hair, the mass media carry preposterous stereotypes, and the purchase and consumption oshroudedana be shrguded in secrecy and paranoia. In the final analysis a large number of such young people will of course settle down and reject their deviant identities, but my point here is that the longer the process of amplification occurs, the less likely is re-entry perceived as either feasible or desirable. It is a combination of initial and socially amplified problems which determine in what direction a particular individual is likely to move.
We must conclude now with a preliminary examination of the implications of this discussion for social policy. There are, I feel, three deductions which can be made at this point. If we wish to reduce the extent of drugtaking we must:•
1. Eliminate the problems which are the underlying causes of drug use. My argument has been that these are related to wider social processes involving individuals completely outside the particular deviant drug-using group under examination. This method would probably, therefore, demand far-reaching changes in the structure of society. To combat student marihuana use, for instance, would involve fundamental alterations in the relationship between higher education and the economy. It is unlikely that such measures could be achieved without considerable conflict.
2. Consider the viable alternative solutions to the use of drugs. In many cases these substitute activities would also face considerable social antagonism. It is perhaps more practical to suggest alternative drugs or safer methods of using existing drugs.
3. Avoid the onset of deviancy amplification. This is possible to an extent but it must be remembered that tolerance of deviancy is not an absolute virtue unrelated to the material and normative status quo existing in society. For significant and powerful groups to condone, for instance, the 'undeserved' hedonistic use of psychotropic drugs would demand drastic changes in their relationships to the mass of people in our society.
It is, therefore, only in the second area, involving the adjustment of present habits and solutions, that any immediate piecemeal change can be readily effected. Illicit drug use, like juvenile delinquency, can sometimes be transformed and marginally reduced by conventional means, but it will take radical tactics to make any substantial impact on its occurrence.
1 E. M.1 jellinek, The Disease Concept of Alcoholism, Hillhouse Press, New Haven, Conn., 1960.
2 A. K. Cohen, 'The Sociology of the Deviant Act', American Sociological Review, no. 3o, £965, pp. 5-14.
3 C. Winick, 'Physician Narcotic Addicts', in The Other Side (ed.) H. Becker, The Free Press, New York, 1964.
4 Sir Aubrey Lewis, 'Review of International Clinical Literature on Cannabis', in Cannabis, Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence, HMSO, London, 1968.
5 H. Anslinger and W. Tomkins, The Traffic in Narcotics, Funk and Wagnalls, New York, r953, pp. 21-2.
6 Chein et al., Narcotics, Delinquency and Social Policy, Tavistock, London, 1964, p. 344.
7 Alisdair Madntyre, 'The Cannabis Taboo', New Society, 5 December 1968, p. 848.
8 Alex Comfort, The Anxiety Makers, Nelson, London, 1967.
9 R. Blum et al Society and Drugs, Jossey-Bass Inc, San Fransisco 1969 p 335
10 J. R. Gusfield, 'Social Structure and Moral Reform', American Journal of Sociology, no. 61, November 1955, p. 223.
11 D. T. Dickson, 'Bureacracy and Morality: An Organizational Perspective on a Moral Crusade', Social Problems, no. 0, pp. 143-16, 1968.
12 J. R. Gusfield, 'Moral Passage: The Symbolic Process in Public Designation of Deviance', Socia/ Problems, no. i5,Autumn 1967, pp. x75-88.
13 H. S. Becker, Outsiders, The Free Press, Glencoe, Ill., 1964
14 Cf. T. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago University Press, 1962.
15 See Table 4 on p. zIo.
16 See Type A in Table 5, p. i io.
17 See Type B in Table 5, p. iii.
18W. and J. McCord, Origins of Alcoholism, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1960.
19 See Type C in Table 5, p. xxi.
20 L. Wilkins, 'Some Sociological Factors in Drug Addiction Control', in Narcotics D. Wilner and G. Kassebaum (ed.), McGraw-Hill, New York, 1965.
21 See Type D in Table 5, p. 112.
22 D. Matza, Becoming Deviant, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 1969, P. 95.
23 C. Winick, United Nations Bulletin on Narcotics, January—March :962, January—March 1964. P. Laurie, Drugs: Medical, Psychological and Social Facts, second edition, Penguin, London, 1969.
24 D. Cooper, Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry, Tavistock, London, 1967, P. 31.