Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2001 - History - 288 pages
Offering a social and biological account of why psychoactive goods proved so seductive, David Courtwright tracks the intersecting paths by which popular drugs entered the stream of global commerce. He shows how the efforts of merchants and colonial planters expanded world supply, drove down prices, and drew millions of less affluent purchasers into the market, effectively democratizing drug consumption. He also shows how Europeans used alcohol as an inducement for native peoples to trade their furs, sell captives into slavery, and negotiate away their lands, and how monarchs taxed drugs to finance their wars and expanding empires. Forces of habit explains why such profitable exploitation has increasingly given way, over the last hundred years, to policies of restriction and prohibition--and how economic and cultural considerations have shaped those policies to determine which drugs are readily accessible, which strictly medicinal, and which forbidden altogether.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

Forces of habit: drugs and the making of the modern world

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Historian Courtwright (Violent Land) ranges widely across more than four centuries and the world to chart the "psychoactive revolution" that made ever more potent drugs available to all classes of ... Read full review


The Psychoactive Revolution
Alcohol Tobacco and Caffeine
Opium Cannabis and Coca

11 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

David T. Courtwright is John A. Delaney Presidential Professor at the University of North Florida.

Bibliographic information