Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds
309 pages
6.75 x 9.75 inches
May 2018
Print ISBN: 9781773380520
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Why are some drugs considered socially acceptable while others are demonized? In Canada today, drugs are viewed as both beneficial and problematic, and there is no definitive agreement on what should be done to address drug use.

The Drug Paradox examines both the empirically founded and socially constructed nature of drugs and drug use. In their exploration of the drug paradox, the authors discuss how the punitive approach to drug use in Canada continues to exist alongside strategies of harm reduction, though this only impedes Canada’s ability to deal effectively with substance misuse.

The Drug Paradox is ideal for use in sociology courses on drugs and drug use, and will also appeal to those who focus on drug use from a criminology, public health, or policy perspective.

Related Titles

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: The Drug Paradox: Canada’s Conflicting Approaches to Drugs and Drug Users
1.1 What Is the Drug Paradox?
1.2 Defining the Core Concepts
1.3 The Social Reality of Drugs and Drug Use

Chapter 2: The History and Politics of Canada’s Drug Laws
2.1 Prohibition Era
2.2 The Opium Act (1908)
2.3 Proprietary or Patent Medicines Act (1908)
2.4 The Opium and Drug Act (1911)
2.5 The Opium and Narcotic Drug Act (1929)
2.6 The Narcotic Control Act (1961)
2.7 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (1996)
2.8 Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (2013)
2.9 Access to Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes Regulations (2016)
2.10 A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada (2016
2.11 Conclusion

Chapter 3: Explaining Substance Use I: Biological and Psychological Theories
3.1 The Moral Model versus the Medical Model
3.2 Biological Explanations
Nature and Drive Theories
Genetic Theories
Neurobiological Theories
3.3 Psychological Explanations
Personality Theories
3.4 Conclusion

Chapter 4: Explaining Substance Use II: Sociological Theories
4.1 Control Theories
Social Bonding Theory
Self-Control Theory
4.2 Strain Theories
Anomie/Strain Theory
General Strain Theory
4.3 Subcultural Theories
Labelling Theory
Differential Association Theory
Social Learning Theory (Differential Association-Reinforcement Theory)
4.4 Integrated Explanations of Substance Use
Differential Opportunity Theory
Drift Theory
Routine Activities and Lifestyle Theories
4.5 Conflict Theories
Marxian Conflict Theory
Pluralist Conflict Theory
4.6 Postmodern Explanations
Normalization Thesis
Foucault and Biopower
4.7 Conclusion

Chapter 5: Classifying Drugs: Psychopharmacological Properties and Legal Classifications
5.1 What is Psychopharmacology and Why Does It Matter to Sociologists?
5.2 Opioids (Narcotics)
Natural Opioids
Semi-Synthetic Opioids
Synthetic Opioids
Legal Classification and Penalties for Opioids
5.3 Depressants
Legal Classification and Penalties for Depressants
5.4 Stimulants
Amphetamines (including Methamphetamine)
Legal Classification and Penalties for Stimulants
5.5 Hallucinogens
Natural Hallucinogens
Semi-Synthetic Hallucinogens
Synthetic Hallucinogens
Legal Classification and Penalties for Hallucinogens
5.6 Cannabis (Marijuana)
Legal Classification and Penalties for Cannabis
5.7 Psychotherapeutic Agents and Performance-Enhancing Drugs
Psychotherapeutic Agents
Performance-Enhancing Drugs
Legal Classification and Penalties for Psychotherapeutic Agents and Performance-Enhancing
5.8 The Problem with Drug Effects and Legal Classifications

Chapter 6: The Socially Constructed Problem of Drugs and Drug Users
6.1 Bath Salts
6.2 Ecstasy
6.3 Crystal Meth
6.4 Cocaine
6.5 Prescription Stimulants: Attention-Enhancing Prescription Drugs
6.6 Cannabis
6.7 Solvents/Inhalants
6.8 Prescription Opioids
6.9 Heroin
6.10 Hallucinogens
6.11 Bringing Together the Objective and Subjective Realities

Chapter 7: Studying Substance Use
7.1 Population-based Studies
International Studies
National Studies
Provincial/Regional Studies
Advantages and Disadvantages of Population-Based Studies
7.2 Field-Based Studies
In-Depth Interviews
Advantages and Disadvantages of Field-based Studies
7.3 Clinical Population Studies
Treatment Studies
Correctional Populations
Advantages and Disadvantages of Clinical Population Studies
7.4 Indigenous Methodological Approaches
7.5 Conclusion

Chapter 8: Demographic Correlates of Substance Use in Canada
8.1 General Prevalence Rates of Substance Use in Canada
8.2 Demographic Correlates
Ethnicity and Race
Socioeconomic Status (SES)
Geographic Location
8.3 Conclusion

Chapter 9: Relational Correlates of Substance Use in Canada: Peers and Families
9.1 Peers
Perceived Peer Use versus Actual Peer Use
Social Activities and Peers
Selection of Peers
Intimate Partners
9.2 Families
Sibling Influence
Parental Influences
Parental Substance Use
9.3 Conclusion

Chapter 10: Prevention Strategies for Drugs and Potential Drug Users in Education
10.1 Types of Prevention in Education
Universal Prevention
Selective Prevention
Indicated Prevention
10.2 Drug Education in Schools
10.3 Models of Drug Education
Information/Knowledge Models
Values/Decision-Making Models
Social Competency Models
Harm Minimization/Harm Reduction Models
10.4 Drug Educators: Teachers and Police
10.5 Ontario: The Case of Failed Drug Education
10.6 Future of Drug Education: The Good and the Bad

Chapter 11: Legal Responses to Drugs and Drug Users
11.1 Prohibition
Advantages and Disadvantages of Prohibition
11.2 Decriminalization
Advantages and Disadvantages of Decriminalization
11.3 Legalization
Free-Market Legalization
Limited-Distribution Legalization
Medical Legalization
Advantages and Disadvantages of Legalization
11.4 Conclusion

Chapter 12: International Drug Policies
12.1 International Drug Conventions
12.2 Punitive Policies
12.3 Pragmatic Policies
12.4 Conclusion

Chapter 13: Canada’s Drug Policies
13.1 Advocates for Punitive Approaches
13.2 Advocates for Pragmatic Approaches
13.3 What is the Official Approach to Drugs and Drug Use in Canada?
13.4 The Missing Component in Canada’s Current National Anti-Drug Strategy: Harm Reduction
13.5 The Future

Appendix A: Canadian Cannabis Legalization Highlights (by Province/Territory)

Tara Bruno

Tara L. Bruno is an Associate Professor of Sociology at King’s University College, Western University.

Rick Csiernik

Rick Csiernik is a Professor at King’s College, University of Western Ontario. He has authored and edited several Canadian Scholars textbooks: Wellness and Work (2005); Responding to the Oppression of Addiction (co-edited with William S. Rowe, 2017, third edition); Substance Use and Abuse (2016, second edition); and Homelessness, Housing, and Mental Health (co-edited with Cheryl Forchuk and Elsabeth Jensen, 2011). He has written more than 95 journal articles, and some of his research interests include addiction, workplace wellness, social work, and spirituality. He has consecutively been included on the King’s University College Honour Roll of Teaching, and is a recipient of the Instructor Appreciation Award at McMaster University.

Substance Use and Abuse, The Drug Paradox, Homelessness, Housing, and Mental Health, Just Say Know, Responding to the Oppression of Addiction, 2nd Edition, Substance Use and Abuse, Second Edition, Wellness and Work, Workplace Wellness, Responding to the Oppression of Addiction, Third Edition


“This book is an enjoyable, thought-provoking look at psychoactive drug use and abuse that approaches the problem from a Canadian perspective through the combined lenses of pharmacol¬ogy, sociology, psychology, and law. The material is presented in a straightforward manner that transcends discipline, and the arguments are persuasive and certainly make one stop and think about the current state of psychoactive drugs in Canada.”
— Dr. Andrew Horne, Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of British Columbia

“In The Drug Paradox, Tara Bruno and Rick Csiernik provide the reader with a comprehensive sociolog-ical account of psychoactive substances in Canada. The authors do an excellent job of highlighting the complex and often contradictory nature of Canada’s drug policy by bringing to light many of the taken-for-granted assumptions of how drugs are classified as either illegal or legal substances. This book is fastidiously researched and is an excellent resource for both undergraduate and graduate students.”
— Dr. Steven Cook, Lecturer in Quantitative Methods and Criminology, Cardiff University

“This book is an essential primer for anyone trying to navigate the social, legal, and health aspects of modern drug use. The authors’ informed advocacy of a transition from punitive criminalization to a harm-reduction approach is timely and convincing.”
— Dr. Patricia G. Erickson, Professor of Sociology and Criminology, University of Toronto, and Scientist Emerita, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Instructor Resources

The Drug Paradox includes the following instructor resources:

  • PowerPoint slides for each chapter
  • Instructors manual that includes lecture suggestions, test questions, short answer questions, assignments suggestions, take home assignments, and additional resources for each chapter

See sample

Student Resources

General Student Resource - Download