Kandall's sleuthing uncovers an intriguing and troubling story. Opium, laudanum, and morphine were primary ingredients in the curative "powders" and strengthening "tonics" that physicians freely prescribed and pharmacists dispensed to women a hundred and fifty years ago. Or a woman could easily dose herself with narcotics and alcohol in the readily available form of "patent" medicines sold in every town and touted in popular magazines ("Over a million bottles sold and in every one a cure!"). For the most part unaware of their dangers, women turned to these remedies for "female complaints," such as "womb disease" and "congestion of the ovaries," as well as for "neurasthenia," a widespread but vague nervous malady attributed to women's weaker, more sensitive natures. Not surprisingly, by the latter half of the nineteenth century the majority of America's opiate addicts were women.
The more things change, the more they remain the same: Substance and Shadow shows how, though attitudes and drugs may vary over timefrom the laudanum of yesteryear to the heroin of the thirties and forties, the tranquilizers of the fifties, the consciousness-raising or prescription drugs of the sixties, and the ascendance of crack use in the eightiesdependency remains an issue for women. Kandall traces the history of questionable treatment that has followed this trend. From the maintenance clinics of the early twenties to the "federal farms" of mid-century to the detoxification efforts and methadone maintenance that flourished in the wake of the Women's Movement, attempts to treat drug-dependent women have been far from adequate. As he describes current policies that put money into drug interdiction and prisons, but offer little in the way of treatment or hope for women like Jennifer Johnson, Kandall calls our attention to the social and personal costs of demonizing and punishing women addicts rather than trying to improve their circumstances and give them genuine help.
|Edition description:||New Edition|
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About the Author
Table of Contents
A Historical Perspective
The Drug Problem
The Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act
The Classic Era
The Second World War and After
Opportunities and Prosecution
Today and Tomorrow
What People are Saying About This
Stephen Kandall's Substance and Shadow is a clearly written, comprehensive history of women and addiction. Beginning with the mid-1800s, Kandall carefully traces women's use of psychoactive substances as well as society's reaction to that use, including physician prescribing practices, treatment, and punishment. Substance and Shadow is sure to become a classic in the drug field, and I look forward to having this comprehensive work in my library to be used again and again as a reference.
Marsha Rosenbaum, Associate Director, The Lindesmith Center
A thoroughly researched and accessible book on one of the most important women's issues of our time. For decades women addicts have been demonized and punished rather than helped. Kandall examines the cultural, economic, and social forces that both draw women into drug addiction and then deny them treatment. His book is a powerful and welcome call for change.
Jean Kilbourne, creator of Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women