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"The War in the Medicine Cabinet" To Open UB's Scholars at Hallwalls Series

Our hidden relationship with "happy pills" is a much bigger problem than illicit drugs

Release Date: September 15, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Humanities Institute will kick off its "Scholars at Hallwalls" lecture series at 4 p.m. on Sept. 23 with a free public lecture by David Herzberg, PhD, assistant professor of history at UB and an expert in America's relationship with prescription drugs.

Herzberg's talk, "The Drug War in the Medicine Cabinet: Prescription Drug Addiction in the Age of Miracle Pills," will take place at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, and will address the question of why a vast and growing markets for prescription uppers, downers and narcotics has characterized America's "war against drugs."

"Licit drug abuse has always dwarfed "street" drug problems, yet drug war scholarship focuses almost exclusively on heroin, cocaine and marijuana," Herzberg says. A corrective is needed here and he provides one with his extensively researched history of prescription drug abuse and addiction in 20th century America.

Herzberg is the author of "Happy Pills in America: From Miltown to Prozac (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009) and recently hosted the 6th Annual International Conference on the History of Alcohol and Drugs.

His talk will address drug providers (manufacturers, marketers, prescribers and traffickers), drug users and others engaged with the issue, including addiction treatment experts, journalists, politicians and activists. Herzberg's arresting work reveals a forgotten history of pro-and anti-drug campaigns, cultural tropes of addiction and treatment programs relatively free of racially charged drug war politics. It also demonstrates how the modern medical system was built in part by monopolizing the provision of legal drugs.

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