High Society: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It

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9781586486723: High Society: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It
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The individual who reaches age twenty-one without smoking, using illegal drugs, or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so. As Joseph Califano points out in his searing indictment of America's irresponsible attitude towards drug abuse, by failing to act on this lesson, we have lost untold lives and resources.

Califano deftly demonstrates how substance abuse is implicated in poverty, violent crime, soaring health care costs, family dissolution, child abuse, homelessness, teen pregnancy, and AIDS. With alcohol and tobacco interests buying political protection with campaign contributions and helping seed a culture of substance abuse, Califano illustrates the dire need for parental engagement, proposes revolutionary changes in prevention, treatment, and the nation's criminal justice, health care, and social service systems, and sounds an urgent cry to address the plague responsible for the death of more Americans than all our wars, natural catastrophes, and traffic accidents combined.

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About the Author:

Joseph A. Califano, Jr., former domestic affairs chief under LBJ and secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under Jimmy Carter, started the nation's first national anti-smoking campaign in 1978. In 1992 he founded the nation's top think tank on substance abuse: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

From Publishers Weekly:

It's hard to argue with Califano's thesis, that substance abuse is a huge, expensive and often tragic problem in the U.S., particularly when it affects children; best known for declaring cigarettes "public health enemy number one" as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Califano is clearly passionate, well-meaning and unafraid to think big: "We must end our denial, stamp out the stigma, rethink our concept of crime and punishment...to confront this plague." His sincerity and conviction is a two-edged sword, however: he comes off big-hearted one minute ("I am calling for...acceptance of such abuse and addiction as a chronic disease"), humorless and out of touch the next ("Movies like 40 Year Old Virgin and Wedding Crashers play excessive alcohol use for laughs"). And though he does take a chapter to address the "sharp edges" of marijuana use and warn against its (non-medical) legalization, he otherwise lumps all addictive substances into a single category; specificity goes instead into the details, costs and attendant statistics of (mostly failed) anti-abuse programs and legislation. Proposed solutions tend toward the general: more and better education, standardized professional training for therapists, eliminating tobacco and alcohol money from politics and "curbing availability and attractiveness." As a wonky primer to one culture warrior's approach to America's drug problem, this volume is informative, if familiar.
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