Hypodermic Needle Anthology (1)

Lindesmith, Alfred R. “‘Dope Fiend’ Mythology.” 1941. The American Drug Scene: An Anthology, edited by James A. Inciardi and Karen McElrath, 5th ed., Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 145-51.

This chapter of the anthology The American Drug Scene: An Anthology makes fascinating claims about the “mythology” associated with drug users in today’s society. In this chapter Lindesmith describes that many stereotypes of drug users have developed. Stereotypes are derived from articles and newspaper accounts which center around the theme of a “dope-crazed killer” or “dope fiend rapist”, and the public draws from these to inform their views of drug users. This affects how drug users are treated within society. Lindesmith goes on to explain that drug addicts are often seen as some of the most heinous and dangerous criminals, and are often associated with killing and rape. He then challenges this misconception by clarifying that drug users are rarely the offenders of crimes of rape and murder. This is supported by the fact that drugs that they are generally addicted to, being opium and its derivatives, inhibit sexual function rather than stimulate it. This source relates to the other chapter of this same anthology, regarding drug users and their disease of drug addiction, along with the other sources regarding drug abusers. This source helps to highlight and reveal a similarity between the views and treatment of drug users and the needles that they use to inject their drugs. By explaining how drug users are viewed as dangerous, this can be compared to how used hypodermic needles are also viewed as dangerous. A question that could follow this source could be “what are some examples of the views and treatment of drug abusers?”.

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