Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

Drugs, Overview

  • Ilana Mountian
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_636


Debates around drugs and drug use are of crucial importance for critical psychology. While most debates are centered on pharmacological, medical, and criminological fields, the debates incorporate central issues for critical psychology, as well as for sociology, anthropology, economics, anti-psychiatry, studies on gender, sexuality, race and class, and every other aspect of the biopolitical economy.


Contemporary definitions of drugs are primarily derived from medical and legal fields, as well as from religious understandings. There are a range of different approaches to the topic that vary according to the social function of drugs, such as food, medicine, poison, recreational use, social habits, and religious rituals (Courtwright, 2001; Douglas, 1987; Escohotado, 1998; South, 1999; Xiberras, 1989).

There is some controversy on the etymology of the word drug; the most accepted is the Middle Dutch word droghe vate meaning “barrel of dry goods” (Vargas, 2008),...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidade de Sao PauloSao PauloBrazil