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Addiction, History and Historians: A Symposium

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

This month, the journal Addiction published an essay by David Courtwright, “Addiction and the Science of History.”  For readers unfamiliar with the journal, Addiction is one of the oldest and most influential interdisciplinary journals focusing on issues related to substance abuse and addiction.

Society for the Study of Addiction

Puzzling on Addiction Since 1884

Recently, the journal has begun a series called “Addiction and Its Sciences,” in which leading scholars from various disciplines discuss the relationship between their field and the addiction field generally.  Recent entries in this series include Bennett Foddy, “Addiction and Its Sciences–Philosophy,” Addiction 106 (January 2011), 25-31, and Jonathan Caulkins and Nancy Nicosia, “Addiction and Its Sciences: What Economics Can Contribute to the Addiction Sciences,” Addiction 105 (July 2010), 1156-1163.  David Courtwright’s essay has a kind of twofold purpose: first, to explain history (and historians) to the addiction research field and, second, to take stock of where both fields are in relation to one another.  In that latter instance, David’s essay offers a useful set of reflections for those of us interested in where history is/should be headed.  That includes Points readers, of course, and so it seemed like a good idea to make this essay available through this site.  The editors and publishers of Addiction have generously agreed, and readers of this blog may access the article for free by following this link.

But wait, that’s not all!  We’ve invited a series of scholars to comment on Courtwright’s essay, and we’ll be publishing their responses to the essay all during the week of March 5.  And, once those have all been posted, David Courtwright will offer his own response to the responses.  It should be an interesting interchange, and we are looking forward to it.

The “Courtwright Symposium” will begin Monday, March 5th, with comments from Nancy Campbell.


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