Benjamin Y. FongAug 15, 2023
Drugs in America from Prohibition to the 21st Century Binge
Benjamin Y. Fong is author of the new book Quick Fixes: Drugs in America from Prohibition to the 21st Century Binge, which was just released in July, 2023 by Verso Books. Ben is an honors faculty fellow and associate director of the Center for Work & Democracy at Arizona State University, and his work has appeared in Jacobin, Catalyst, and the New York Times. Previously, Ben’s work focused on the (usually negative) effects of neoliberal capitalism, writing about NGOs, labor leaders, and health care. Quick Fixes expands this examination into the world of drugs, examining nine different kinds of intoxicants, and five “orienting claims” that place their use within in larger capitalist histories.
A bit about the book...
Americans are in the midst of a world-historic drug binge. Opiates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, antidepressants, antipsychotics--across the board, consumption has shot up in the 21st century. At the same time, the United States is home to the largest prison system in the world, justified in part by a now zombified "war" on drugs. How did we get here?
Quick Fixes is a look at American society through the lens of its pharmacological crutches. Though particularly acute in recent decades, the contradiction between America's passionate love and intense hatred for drugs has been one of its defining characteristics for over a century.
Through nine chapters, each devoted to the modern history of a drug or class of drugs, Fong examines Americans' fraught relationship with psychoactive substances. As society changes it produces different forms of stress, isolation, and alienation. These changes, in turn, shape the sorts of drugs society chooses.
By laying out the histories, functions, and experiences of our chemical comforts, the hope is to help answer that ever perplexing question: what does it mean to be an American?
Emily Dufton is the author of Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America (Basic Books, 2017). A drug historian and writer, her second book, on the development of the opioid addiction medication industry, is under contract with the University of Chicago Press.