Anna Waldstein, David Nutt and Joanna Kavenna discuss what drives our attachment to culturally dominant intoxicants and their possible alternatives.

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There’s a drug we use to celebrate, commiserate, flirt with new friends and reconnect with old ones. It’s central to our culture and our way of life. And it’s called alcohol. But the line between enjoyment and dependence is slim. Globally more people died from alcohol last year than from Covid-19. During lockdown, alcohol-related deaths have been at their highest rate since records began. And it’s the leading cause of death in men up to the age of 60.

Do we not act to contain this killer because of its centrality to our culture and the vested interests involved? As an alternative to prohibition, would we be better to normalise other social drugs claimed to be safer such as psychedelics? Or should we recognise that all cultures have used intoxicants, accept the risks and enjoy their effects?

Chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, David Nutt, Medical Anthropology and Ethnobotany academic Anna Waldstein, and bestselling author Joanna Kavenna go head to head on desire and restraint. Hosted by Postdoctoral Training Fellow at the Francis Crick Institute Güneş Taylor.

#CultureAndAddiction #MassProductionAlcohol #WhyGiveUpAlcohol

Dr Anna Waldstein is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Anthropology and Ethnobotany at the University of Kent. Her current research centres on the political and spiritual dimensions of medicinal plant-use, and the historical relationship between medicine and social control, as well as issues related to embodiment, intersubjectivity and spirituality.

Chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, David Nutt has been a fierce defender of science based policy since his infamous sacking as drugs advisor to the government.

Güneş Taylor is a training fellow at the Francis Crick Institute, the London-based biomedical research centre. Güneş has debated the implications of genome editing in forums such as Fertility Fest, the Festival of Genomics, and Virtual Futures, as well as on the Guardian’s podcast Science Weekly. In 2018, Güneş was awarded the Crick Public Engagement Prize for her efforts in the public communication of science.

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