The Royal College of Physicians Committee on Drug Addiction, c.1938–c.1947

  • Christopher Hallam


This chapter examines the growing dissatisfaction amongst doctors and addiction experts in medicine, psychiatry, the prisons and government departments (Home Office, Ministry of Health). These discontents led to the setting up of the Royal College of Physicians Committee on Drug Addiction in 1938 and are reflected in its workings. The composition of the Committee was strongly influenced by eugenics, and its establishment was initiated by eugenicists in the medical and allied professions. Discussions were mainly structured around the perceived need to confine and segregate the addict population; the core issue was whether to stop at addicts or to lock up the entire population of misfits—the deviant nation. This was an old theme in addiction discourse. The Home Office was ambivalent about the proposals but finally came down against them. The anti-segregation wing of the Committee was led by Russell Brain, who went on to chair two influential committees on addiction in the twilight years of the classic British System.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Hallam
    • 1
  1. 1.Global Drug Policy ObservatorySwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

Personalised recommendations