Professor to release book on history of drug overdoses

Professor to release book on history of drug overdoses

Nancy Campbell, a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor, recently wrote a book, which will be published this month, that focuses on drug addiction, treatment and policy, and drug-using subcultures.

Campbell is a historian of science and medicine and spent years researching addiction as well as interviewing nearly 60 drug users, activists and scientists.

The book, OD: Naloxone and the Politics of Overdose, highlights the history of drug overdoses in the 20th century as well as the emergence of Naloxone, a drug that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Naloxone was once used only in emergency medicine and operating rooms and now is used by activists on the streets as a tool. It is a drug Campbell believes should be in first-aid kits and medicine cabinets.

“Anything involving drugs is political,” Campbell said. “They are freighted with moral, spiritual, and symbolic significance. Much as we try to tame them, drugs are more than just commodities. They are technologies that say something about our bodies and ourselves — and our societies. If we use an antidepressant or an anti-anxiety medication as prescribed, we are considered compliant. If we use heroin, we are automatically positioned as anti-social.”

Campbell has previously written two other books on addiction and is the co-author of two more.