Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.

Department of Justice, Law and Society

School of Public Affairs

The American University

Fall 1999


Wednesdays, 5:30 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.

Ward 3

Faculty:  Dr. Jeffrey A. Schaler

Office:  Dept. of Justice, Law, and Society, 

Ward Building, 2nd floor

Telephone:  (301) 585-5664 in Silver Spring, Md.

Office hours:  (by appointment)

Course Description

     Most people believe alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs 

cause "addiction."  Addiction is said to be characterized, 

in part, by involuntary behavior and "loss of control" over 

drug consumption.  "Addicted" persons allegedly lose their 

ability to refuse "addictive" drugs and/or to moderate their 

consumption of those substances.  History shows us that kind 

of thinking likely emerged from the anti-alcohol rhetoric of 

temperance-era leaders, the anti-alcohol attitudes 

instrumental in establishing alcohol prohibition, and the 

beliefs about alcohol advanced by members of Alcoholics 

Anonymous following repeal.

     Contemporary public health, clinical, and legal 

perspectives on legal and illegal drugs such as tobacco, 

alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, etc., also tend to 

be based, in part, in the same temperance-era thinking, 

i.e., that those drugs are universally-addicting substances.  

The implications of these perspectives for personal and 

criminal responsibility for the consequences of legal- and 

illegal-drug use are significant and often contradictory.  

For example, recent attempts to regulate tobacco by the 

federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are based in the 

ideas that nicotine is an addictive drug and that cigarettes 

are "nicotine-delivery systems."  Thus, tobacco is now 

considered a "dangerous" drug.  This is despite the fact 

most people quit smoking after many years or moderate their 

smoking for many years.  Moreover, the widespread attempts 

by state attorneys general to hold tobacco companies liable 

for the health consequences of smoking are clearly based in 

the idea consumers were "tricked" into being "addicted" by 

the tobacco industry.  Yet, many smokers say they choose to 

smoke despite the risks.

     In this course we examine the validity of those 

assumptions about addiction and their implications for 

public, clinical, and legal policy.  In addition to learning 

about diverse explanatory models for addiction, we will 

examine in detail conflicting forms of treatment for 

addiction, the efficacy of treatment in general, First 

Amendment issues and court-ordered addiction treatment, 

addiction and criminal responsibility, Alcoholics Anonymous 

and religious-conversion experience, the use of mind-

altering drugs as religious experience, and the ethics of 

general attempts to protect people from themselves advanced 

by today's "public health movement."  Lecture and discussion 


Course Objectives

1.  To improve the student's legal and policy-oriented 

thinking about the meaning of addiction and the foundation 

of behavior labeled as "addictive."

2.  To evaluate the evidence supporting and contesting the 

idea that addiction exists, that it is characterized by 

involuntariness, and that it is treatable.

3.  To understand what happens in voluntary and involuntary 

treatment for drug addiction.

4.  To understand public policy, legal, philosophical and 

psychological perspectives on why people choose to use mind-

altering drugs.

5.  To evaluate the efficacy and constitutionality of 

diverse perspectives on, and policies for, alcohol, drug and 

tobacco use in contemporary society.

6.  To examine the structure and function of the 

contemporary "public health movement."

7.  To develop intellectual skill in debating these and 

related controversial issues in legal and public policy 


Required Texts

Schaler, J.A. and Schaler, M.E. (eds).  (1998).  Smoking:  

     Who has the right?  Amherst, N.Y.:  Prometheus Books.  

Schaler, J.A. (ed.) (1997).  DRUGS:  Should we legalize, 

     decriminalize, or deregulate?  Amherst, N.Y.:  

     Prometheus Books. 

Szasz, T.S.  (1992).  Our right to drugs:  The case for a 

     free market.  New York:  Praeger Publishers.

Course Requirements and Grades 

Position paper                          15%

Mid-term examination                    35%

Debate                                  10%

Final examination                       35%

Class participation                      5%

                               Total = 100%

Description of course requirements:

Short position paper:  Write a 5-page paper supporting 

drug prohibition, federal regulation of tobacco, and the 

idea addiction is a treatable disease.  Your paper must not 

be longer than 5 pages.  Disagree with all arguments 

supporting drug legalization and reform measures focused on 

decreasing prohibition.  Discuss how drugs and drug use 

cause addiction and crime.  Argue how the state has a 

legitimate and compelling interest in protecting people from 

themselves as well as from others.  Use at least five 

references, which are to be listed separately on the sixth 

page.  Use the reference format presented in the required 

readings section of this syllabus.  You may not quote more 

than two lines of other material.  If you quote more than 

two lines your grade on the paper will automatically drop by 

one letter grade.  Paraphrase material in your own words.  

Cite any author you are referring to this way (Schaler, 

1997).  Do not list any material in the reference section 

that is not cited in the text of your paper.  The paper must 

be double-spaced, typewritten with font size no larger than 

12 points, margins no larger than 1 inch.  Your spelling 

must be accurate.  You must use complete sentences and 

proper paragraphs.  Your paper should be organized with an 

introduction, review of issues, discussion and conclusion.

Mid-term examination:  The mid-term examination will 

consist of essay questions focused on all readings and 

discussion in class.  

Debate:  A debate topic will be assigned by Dr. Schaler.  

Participation in the debate is mandatory.  You will be 

assigned a position to defend in the debate.  First you will 

deliver a formal debate statement.  After everyone has done 

so, you are expected to argue and debate the topic.  The 

length of the formal oral statement will be determined by 

the professor based on the number of students in the class.  

You will be given ample time to meet with your team during 

several classes before the debate in order to plan your 

presentation accordingly.  

Final examination:  The final examination will consist of 

essay questions focused on all of the material covered in 

this course.  You will be given the opportunity to express 

your own point of view on the many controversial issues we 


-->   Clear and accurate writing will be taken into account 

in assigning grades, as well as participation in class 

discussions.  Material discussed in class, or in films, 

and not in any of the readings, may form the basis for 

questions on the examinations.  One grade reduction for 

over three class absences.  Students are responsible 

for anything covered in class during their absence.  

Readings must be completed by the session to which they are 

assigned.  Additional readings may be assigned during the 

course.  Students are encouraged to form study groups on 

their own.  The examinations must be taken on the dates 

assigned.  Grades:  A-=90, B+=89, B-=80, C+=79, 

C-=70, etc.  If you're having trouble with this course make 

an appointment to talk about it.


Date              Topic                                  Reading

September 1       Introduction:                          Lecture

                  The Drug Policy Problem                Schaler

                  Opium, Cocaine, and 

                  Marijuana in American History           Part I

                  Just Say "No" to Legalization         Parts II 

                                                           & III

                  Medical Marijuana:  What Counts        Part IV

                  As Medicine?

September 8       Drug War Metaphors and Addictions:      Part V

                  Drugs Are Property                       

                  Addiction Is A Behavior:               Part VI

                  The Myth of Loss of Control

                  Do Drugs Cause Crime?                 Part VII

                  (First position paper due)

September 15      State-supported and Court-ordered    Part VIII

                  Treatment for Addiction;  The Power

                  of Self-fulfilling Prophecies

September 22      Smoking:  Introduction;  Tobacco     Schaler &

                  Use and Regulation and Regulation      Schaler

September 29      For the Public's Health                Part II

October 6         Liberty at Stake                      Part III

October 13        Mid-term examination

October 20        Intro;  The American Ambivalence      Szasz II

October 27        The Fear We Favor                      Ch. III

November 3        Drug Education                          Ch. IV

November 10       The Debate on Drugs  Debate I            Ch. V

November 17       Blacks and Drugs     Debate II          Ch. VI

November 24       No Class -- Thanksgiving  

                  Read Doctors and Drugs                 Ch. VII

December 1        Between Dread and Desire              Ch. VIII

December 8        Contemporary issues and review

December 15       Final exam    5:30 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.

Debate topic:                                                  

I am defending the       Pro                             Con

Team #:                                                   

Team members:                                             

Academic Integrity Code

"Standards of academic conduct are set forth in the 

University's Academic Integrity Code.  It is expected that 

all examinations, tests, written papers, and other 

assignments will be completed according to the standards set 

forth in this code.  By registering, you have acknowledged 

your awareness of the Academic Integrity Code, and you are 

obliged to become familiar with your rights and 

responsibilities as defined by the Code.  Violations of the 

Academic Integrity Code will not be treated lightly, and 

disciplinary action will be taken should such violations 

occur.  Please see me if you have any questions about the 

academic violations described in the Code in general or as 

they relate to particular requirements for this course."