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Siamese Cat in the Council Flat (From Drugs and Drug Use in Society, P 221-238, 1994, Ross Coomber, ed. - See NCJ 159452)

NCJ Number
M Kohn
Date Published
18 pages
This article examines the changing ways in which illegal drugs have been represented in the British press, manipulation of the drug issue to obfuscate other issues, and antidrug campaigns.
By headlining the personal drug-generated problems of both everyday people and titled individuals, British tabloid newspapers gave credence to the claim that heroin dissolved class barriers that had survived satire, social democracy and the sixties. But the heroin story of the 1980s had a much more significant class dimension. It emerged as a focus for media attention during 1984, a year in which Britain was beset by conflicts between police and striking miners and disturbed by government attempts to cast the dispute as a rerun of the Falklands war. With the country in such a condition, issues on which there was general agreement were at a premium. Heroin made a great contribution to national morale: everybody was against it. Heroin was linked with unemployment, addicts were symbols of a decaying society even as they were products of that society. But they were not excommunicated from family and society as their predecessors had been; they were the objects of concerned efforts to bring them back to productive status through a series of state-subsidized temporary work schemes which, as a source of cheap labor, forced wages down. The author seems to find in the heroin epidemic, in press accounts of heroin-related events, and in government attempts to deal with the problem, a vast conspiracy to protect addicts from the consequences of their actions, and a government plot to use a phony war on drugs to distract British citizens from more significant and urgent matters. Notes


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