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Smashed!

The Many Meanings of Intoxication and Drunkenness

By Peter Kelly, Jenny Advocat, Lyn Harrison and Christopher Hickey

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'This important study sheds new light on the societal tensions that shape the many meanings of intoxication and drunkenness. It is a must read for scholars, medical experts, policy makers, and media personnel engaged in discussion about alcohol.'
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, April 2012, vol 49, no 08.

Everyone knows what intoxication and drunkenness are, what they look like, how to define and measure them and what their consequences are. At least we might assume so given the ways these words are used by the media, by politicians and policy makers and by various medical, educational and legal experts in Australia and around the world.

A whole variety of concerns about young people, individual and public health, road safety, sexual assault and violence are connected to these taken-for-granted understandings of intoxication and drunkenness.

Drawing on an extensive review of research from biomedicine, psychology, sociology and legal studies, and from news media reporting, the authors reveal a far more complex picture.

This is a picture marked by little agreement on how to define intoxication and drunkenness, how to measure intoxication, what getting drunk means to those who drink (including young people, men and women and people from different cultural and national backgrounds), and where responsibility lies for many of the individual, social, medical and legal consequences of intoxication and drunkenness.

Smashed! presents an overview of the history of these concerns and an extensive account of the many meanings of intoxication and drunkenness at the start of the 21st century. It provides a valuable resource for researchers, policy makers, the media and members of the community who are involved in these ongoing, often emotive, debates.

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