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Duncanian Studies

Focusing on Addictive Disorders Rather than Drug Use

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Professor Thomas Nicholson Lectures
on Drug Policy at University of Oxford

Venue: Lincoln College, Oxford

When: 11 March 2008

Prof. Thomas Nicholson gave the featured lecture on the first day of discussions at this year's Oxford Round Table held at Lincoln College of the University of Oxford.

The Oxford Round Table, now in its twentieth year, is an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of contemporary issues that affect the public good in all its various forms and ramifications. Each year it draws many of the world's leading academics, scientists and policymakers to discuss a major topic in public policy. This year's theme was "Substance Abuse: Exploring Consequences and Remedies".

Dr. Nicholson, who is Professor of Public Health at Western Kentucky University and Professor of Community Medicine at the University of Louisville, spoke on the subject "Focusing on Addictive Disorders Rather than Drug Use." The coauthors of his paper were Dr. John White, an associate professor in health care administration at Western Kentucky University, and Dr. David Duncan, a retired professor from Brown University and former White House policy advisor, who taught at Oxford twenty years ago. They have collaborated in the past on a number of papers on drugs and drug policy published in major journals in the fields of psychology, public health, and the addictions both in the U.S. and the U.K..

The paper presents the argument that the "War on Drugs" has not only been a total failure in its goal of preventing drug use and abuse but actually contributes to making drug problems worse. The core problem, they argue, is that the "War on Drugs" attempts to punish all drug use when society should only be concerned with preventing addiction, a task that is not helped at all by the current policies. Instead of wasting enormous amounts of money on a failing effort to suppress drug trafficking and drug education founded on falsehoods and exaggerations, we should be committing our resources to factual education and effective treatment.

Powerpoint of Dr. Nicholson's lecture

Nicholson at Wikipedia