Happy Halloween from Points!

Editor’s Note: We at Points wish all our celebrating readers a happy Halloween! Before you head out trick-or-treating, check out this post from last year’s holiday season on “laced” candy and other drug myths. It also contains a prediction, proven correct in last year’s election, that Florida voters would pass a constitutional amendment allowing for medical marijuana.


Beware… or don’t.

This year, medical marijuana is on the ballot in my home state of Florida, and it’s likely to pass: the latest statewide poll shows 77 percent of Floridians support the proposed constitutional amendment.

But the remaining 33 percent aren’t taking this lying down. On Monday, some county sheriffs held a press conference ostensibly on Halloween safety. Instead, surrounded by costumed children for full effect, they warned citizens about the supposed risk of marijuana edibles being passed out to unsuspecting youth. Continue reading →


Reminder: Now Hiring Chief Editor for ADHS’s Social History of Alcohol and Drugs

Social History of Alcohol and Drugs
(SHAD) seeks a new chief editor to join Dr. James Kneale (editor), Dr. David Beckingham and Dr. Holly Karibo (reviews editors). The new chief editor will succeed Dr. Dan Malleck, who will stand down in 2017.

Social History of Alcohol and Drugs is a leading international journal and covers all social and cultural aspects of substance history. The journal is published twice a year on behalf of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society.

This is an exciting time for the journal as we are currently in discussion with a new academic publisher.  The new chief editor will oversee the move to more modern publication practices, including an online peer-review system and possible partnership with ProjectMUSE. Continue reading →

Conference Spotlight: Watch Michelle Alexander’s International Drug Policy Reform Conference Keynote

drug_policy_alliance_logoFrom October 11 to 14, the Drug Policy Alliance, a reform-minded advocacy organization and occasional cross-poster to Points, held its biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C.  Topics of interest include organizing and educating about drugs under differential prohibitions, mitigating the harms of the drug war and promoting self care for vulnerable populations, and influencing the discursive boundaries of debates over drugs and other substances (one such panel featured Points alum Dr. Ingrid Walker). The full program is found onlineContinue reading →

Dissertation Compilation: Drugs and Health

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Understanding Associations of Alcoholic Beverage Consumption with Weight Status

Author: Butler, Jennie Lauren

Abstract: Contradictory findings exist on associations between alcoholic beverage consumption with Waist Circumference (WC) and Body Mass Index (BMI). Confounding by dietary intake and variation in associations by drinking level and/or alcoholic beverage type likely contribute to mixed literature. The overarching goal of this dissertation was to shed light on inconsistencies in the alcohol and obesity literature by investigating confounding by dietary intake and associations of changes in alcohol intake with WC and BMI change. A pooled cross-sectional analysis of data from 6,018 men and 5,885 women 20 – 79 years of age from the National Nutrition and Health Examination Survey (NHANES), 2003 – 2012 was conducted. Multivariable linear regression models were used to determine associations of alcohol intake with energy (kcal), macronutrient and sugar intakes (% kcal), WC and BMI. Associations of drinking with WC and BMI were examined with and without adjustment for dietary intake. Compared to non-drinkers, binge drinking men consumed less energy from food and heavy drinking women consumed less energy from non-alcoholic beverages. All drinking levels were inversely associated with carbohydrate and sugar intakes compared to non-drinking. Positive associations between binge drinking and WC in men were attenuated and no longer significant after adjustment for carbohydrate and sugar intakes. Negative associations between heavy drinking and WC and BMI in women were strengthened after adjustment for carbohydrate and sugar intakes. Next a prospective study of data from 1,894 men and 2,252 women utilizing 25 years of Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study data investigating associations of 5-yr changes in alcohol intake with 5-yr WC and BMI change was conducted. Random effects linear regression models were used to determine whether 5-yr changes in drinking were associated with 5-yr WC and BMI change. In men, decreasing drinking, particularly stopping excessive drinking, was associated with lower 5-yr WC gains. In women, increasing wine intake and decreasing liquor intake was associated with lower 5-yr WC and BMI gains. Our findings highlight dietary confounders of associations of alcohol intake with WC and BMI, and heterogeneity in associations by drinking level and beverage type in US adults. Continue reading →

Dissertation Research: Constructing the Addict, Addiction Models, and Drug Policy in the United States

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Piercing the Veil of Learned Helplessness: A Transpersonal Model of Addiction

Author: Eng, Peter Anthony

Abstract: This study expands the role of transpersonal psychology in the treatment of addiction and offers a revised theoretical model that is, in effect, a spiritual alternative to the Twelve-step approach. First, the current transpersonal model of addiction is deconstructed based on three of its core suppositions: (a) that Twelve-step programs are spiritual rather than religious, (b) that they are philosophically congruent with transpersonal theory, and (c) that they are the most effective treatment for addiction. Next, aspects of two major theoretical trends in transpersonal studies, the integral and the participatory perspectives, are then implemented as foundational supports for extending the traditional transpersonal model of addiction beyond its current boundaries. Addiction research from different fields and disciplines is also referenced to ensure that the model is effective, appropriate, and relevant. Continue reading →

Upcoming Witness Seminar: 50 Years of the MCA and Alcohol Treatment


 To mark the 50th anniversary of the MCA, we are holding a Witness Seminar at BMA House, London on 14th November 2017. This will be a unique event in the history of alcohol and health.

The MCA was founded in 1967 by a group of doctors from a range of specialties, to improve the management of patients with alcohol related harm. There have been many changes during the last 50 years, ranging from the way the relationship between alcohol and health is conceived to the policy context in which alcohol treatment takes place.  The aim of this event is to capture this evolution, with the testimony of some of the early members of the MCA and others involved in the alcohol and health field over the last 50 years.  Continue reading →

The Points Interview: Dan Malleck


Dan Malleck

Dan Malleck is an Associate Professor of Health Sciences at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario. He is the author of Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Public Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-1944 (University of British Colombia Press, 2012) and co-editor, with Cheryl Krasnick Warsh, of Consuming Modernity: Gendered Behaviour and Consumerism Before the Baby Boom (UBC Press, 2014). Try to Control Yourself won the Canadian Historical Association’s Clio Prize for Best Book in Ontario History in 2013, and Malleck’s writing has appeared in news outlets including the Globe and Mail and The National Post. He earned his PhD from Queen’s University in Kingston, ON. Malleck’s most recent book is When Good Drugs Go Bad: Opium, Medicine, and the Origins of Canada’s Drug Laws (UBC Press, 2015), which he discusses below.

Describe your book in terms your bartender could understand.

This book examines the social and cultural forces that combined to encourage the creation of Canada’s drug laws.  It argues that we need to get past the simplistic statement that drug laws were racist reactions to foreigners in our country, and have complex roots.

What do you think a bunch of alcohol and drug historians might find particularly interesting about your book?

The book is not a political history, but it looks at how various cultural, economic, professional and social forces converged in the early 1900s to make it seem necessary to create federal laws restricting opiates and other mind altering drugs.  It takes long time-
line, following the threads of influence as they grew and expanded, gathering energy and cultural currency. I use the metaphor of streams converging into raging river.  

The main question driving the research was “why did we decide that addiction was a problem that needed federal intervention” and “when did it become okay for the government to severely restrict sales of certain substances that were previously generally unrestricted.”  I argue that Canada’s first drug laws were not laws against recreational use, but pharmacy laws that made it restricted certain substances determined to be dangerous. These laws, the results of political lobbying to deal with a social problem, made such restrictions acceptable.  From that point, the definition of “danger” expanded from the potential of death, to the potential for serious damage, to the potential for dependency.  The precedent for national drug regulation, then, was set in the pharmacy acts, which were a combination of professional pressure and social concern over access to poisonous substances.  

whengooddrugsI also challenge a dominant and reductionist narrative that the opium acts of the early 1900s were simply attacks on Chinese people in Canada.  This argument misses the power of the idea that drugs were a problem.  When William Lyon MacKenzie King argued, in his preamble to the 1908 report encouraging parliament to create the Opium Act, that opium’s “baneful influences” were “too well known to require comment” he was channeling that broader concern based upon the familiarity of most Canadians with the challenges of opium as a medicine and a habit-forming drug. He himself had experience of these baneful influences in his personal life, and most Canadians probably knew someone who had an opium habit. Most had probably consumed opium at some point.  To reduce this to an attack on the Chinese is simply a distortion of the past, often for current political reasons.  Moreover, the same session of parliament that passed the Opium Act also passed a Proprietary and Patent Medicines Act, dealing with another significant drug problem.  This book springs from that contention that reducing the drug laws to racist reactionism doesn’t do the story justice, nor does it help us understand the complexity of our drug laws in general, and the challenges of reforming them.

Now that the hard part is over, what is the thing YOU find most interesting about your book?

It’s the same page length as my first book even though it’s much longer, but took less time to write. Figure that out.

Every research project leaves some stones unturned. What stone are you most curious to see turned over soon?

One thing I was never able to do due to the sheer volume of material and time it would take was track the changes in prescribing patterns as different laws came into effect. I have a database of probably hundreds of thousands of prescriptions from pharmacy records that span various provincial and federal law changes, and I wonder if those laws, restricting access to substances like opium, affected the way doctors prescribed, or the way customers purchased (or pharmacists dispensed). I suspect it did, but without a massive team, grant, and hiccup in space/time, I won’t be able to do that.

BONUS QUESTION: In an audio version of this book, who should provide the narration?

Aaron Paul.