American Sociological Association

Section on Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco

From the Title

From the Chair

Welcome to the winter issue of the ADT section newsletter. Rethinking social movements is the theme of this year’s ASA meeting. As I see it, the nation and the world are going through a pharmacological revolution driven by technology and intimately tied to other social movements affecting how we live our lives and govern ourselves. Some of the substances in the news currently include opioids, heroin and overdose, the growing use of e-cigarettes, the use of performance enhancing drugs by the Russian Olympic team, and marijuana legalization. Josh Meisel is organizing a special session on the marijuana reform movement for the 2016 meeting. This is an extra session for which he obtained approval from the program committee and he will be inviting speakers directly.

The ASA Annual Meeting will take place in Seattle Washington, August 20-23, 2016. When making your plans bear in mind that we are planning to have our joint reception with the SSSP division on drinking and drugs, Saturday night, August 20, Day 1 of the meeting. Our section sessions and business meeting will be on Monday, August 22, Day 3 of the meeting. Special thanks to Hannah Knudson and Jennifer Schwartz, who are identifying a congenial location for our annual outing.

Washington is one of the first states to have legalized recreational marijuana use. Accordingly, I am looking forward to doing some observations while I’m at the meeting. Of note, the state law stands in direct contrast to federal law. Marijuana is still listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. However, Senator and Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill to change the classification. As you may know, one of his unofficial campaign slogans is “Feel the Bern.” Full disclosure, I live in Burlington Vermont, which is full on Bernie land. Marijuana reform represents a cultural shift, but it is also part of a major civil rights movement. Marijuana laws have often been applied in a discriminatory manner. A shout out to Harry Levine for all his important work and outreach keeping this issue in the spotlight. In this regard, marijuana reform is also part of the current Black Lives Matter and End Mass Incarceration movements aimed at reversing the impacts of decades of racial injustice disguised as drug policy aimed at preventing addiction.

That’s the next topic of this statement—addiction. My predecessor Wendy Chapkis arranged a two-year articulation between the ADT and Sexualities Sections of ASA. Last year we had a session on the overlap between sexuality and substance use, which they hosted. This year it’s our turn. We are co-hosting a session titled “Examining Addiction: Critical Perspectives.” This session will explore the construction and deployment of the concept “addiction” as applied to sex, drugs, and other sources of human pleasure and pain relief. Topics may include the cultural framing of addiction and addiction theories; responses to addiction; cultural anxieties over desire and loss of self-control; social responses to and the policing of pleasure. This section represents an excellent bridge in so many ways. It expands our concept of addiction into the broader class of behavioral addictions. It also critically expands our work from the morally laden construct of addiction using a broader socio-cultural lens.

If addiction is less of your focus, Alice Cepeda is organizing a regular session for the meeting on Substance Use, Abuse and Treatment. This overarching title encompasses any substance-related topic you might wish to present. In addition to this program session, our section session on addiction, and the invited session on marijuana reform, we will be having our roundtables, which provide an opportunity for involving colleagues in your work. The deadline for submissions is January 6, 2016, by 3:00 pm. The call for paper submissions is open now.

On behalf of our section, I want to express a big thank you to Kathryn Nowotny for stepping up as editor of the section newsletter. Also, a hearty thank you to her predecessor Carrie Oser who ran the newsletter for years, earned the section’s Senior Scholar Award for 2015, and is the incoming chair of the section. Way to go Carrie! Thank you all who support the vitality of this section. Best to everyone with your important research, teaching, outreach and larger community service.

Andy Golub

2016 ADT Chair