Want Pork? Get Clean Urine!

In an unusual display of equanimity, the Florida House of Representatives yesterday briefly considered requiring ALL recipients of government pork to undergo drug testing to demonstrate their eligibility.  This was a happy moment in this legislative season’s otherwise long sad march down a pee-soaked trail.

Florida's Motto: "Clean Pee or Die"

Last month, Senator Steve Oelrich (R-Alachua) introduced a bill that would require all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to be screened for drugs–at their own expense.  While such a requirement might seem, oh, onerous and unconstitutional, Oelrich kindly explained that in fact it is “an offer of help and a wake-up call” to the poor benighted wastrels who would scrounge at the public trough.  Furthermore, mandatory testing of welfare applicants should not be seen as in any way stigmatizing or moralizing, because the previous month our Governor, Rick Scott, has also begun to demand testing of all state employees.  (No dirty drops yet for the managing editors of Points.) 

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Summer School!

The good souls over at DoseNation offer a link today to a series of classes taught in 2006 by UC Berkeley Behavioral Pharmacologist Dave Presti. “The major focus of the course is on the relationship between behavior and the physiological actions of drugs. Emphasis will be placed on effects of pharmacological agents on complex mental …

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Teaching Drugs and Alcohol through the Filter of Student Life

In his second week as a Points Guest Blogger, Eoin Cannon reflects on the difficulties of talking intelligently about addiction with a roomful of undergraduates who may still be hungover from the night before.

Last fall, I taught a course called “Stories of Addiction” for my university’s Freshman Seminar program. It was the first opportunity I’d found to teach my scholarly interest in a sustained way. As in approaching any new course, I gave some thought during my preparation to what beliefs, assumptions, and values students would bring to the topic. In departmental courses, I think, you can count on your discipline’s critical tools, and your students’ developing comfort with them, to create analytical distance. Not a space, hopefully, in which personal experience is unwelcome, but one colored by the implicit understanding that our main purpose here is not to do therapy or reproduce conventional wisdom.

But three factors made the issue of distance particularly salient in my seminar. First, it was for freshman only, during their fall semester. They had no experience with college-level critical thinking. Second, the seminar context, combined with my own approach to the topic, put the course outside of any single disciplinary framework and its implied critical distance.

Your Experience Here

It wasn’t “addiction in literature,” it wasn’t “the history of addiction,” it was just “addiction stories,” and the shapes they take, the work they do, in various contexts. I was using the category of narrative to develop an interdisciplinary framework that would not be obvious to students. Third, and most important, alcohol/drugs is a topic freighted with official and unofficial discourses that play key roles in the social identities of college students.

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