Last updated December 2018 - please see Resources for further academic scholarship and news media. Though we cannot post selections with copyright restrictions, we have linked to freely accessible content when possible.  


I. Epidemics and the Opioid Crisis in Context

Complicating the concept of “epidemic”: Social responses to epidemics, epidemic narratives 

Overview of the Current Opioid Crisis in Historical Context

Thinking about our Own Language in Class


II. Epidemiology

Historical and Current Demographics  

Urban versus Rural: The Landscape of Addiction 

  • Acker, Caroline Jean. Creating the American Junkie: Addiction Research in the Classic Era of Narcotic Control. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. (Introduction, Chapter 1: Heroin Addiction and Urban Vice Reform) 
  • Bourgois, Phillipe and Jeffrey Schonberg. Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009. (Introduction) 
  • Garcia, Angela. The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010. (Introduction, Chapter 1: Graveyard) 
  • Del Real, Jose. “Sick River: Can These California Tribes Beat Heroin and History?The New York Times. September 4, 2018. 
  • Talbot, Margaret. “The Addicts Next Door.” The New Yorker. June 5, 2017.  

Race and Opioids in U.S. History

Iatrogenesis and Physician Culpability 

III. Pain

Anthropology of Pain

  • Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985. (p. 1-9) 
  • Kleinman, Arthur. The Illness Narratives: Suffering Healing, and the Human Condition. New York: Basic Books, 1988. (Chapter 3: The Vulnerability of Pain and the Pain of Vulnerability) 

The History of Pain Science and Pain Medicine

  • Wailoo, Keith. Pain: A Political History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. (Introduction) 
  • Meldrum, Marcia. “A Capsule History of Pain Management.” Journal of the American Medical Association 290, no. 18 (November 12, 2003): 2470-2475. 
  • Noble, Bill et al. “The Measurement of Pain, 1945-2000.” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 29, no. 1 (Jan 2005): 14-21. 
  • Coffin, Phillip and Caleb Banta-Green. “The Dueling Obligations of Opioid Stewardship.” Annals of Internal Medicine 160, no. 3 (Feb 4, 2014): 207-208. 
  • Ballantyne, Jane C., and Mark D. Sullivan. “Intensity of Chronic Pain—The Wrong Metric?” The New England Journal of Medicine 373, no. 22: 2098-­2099. 
  • Baker, David W. “The Joint Commission’s Pain Standards: Origins and Evolution.” The Joint Commission. May 5, 2017. 

Pain in Global Health Contexts

The Experience of the Pain Patient, Including Differences by Race and Gender

IV. Addiction

The History of Addiction Research; Theories of Addiction through History

  • SHORT FILM: "The Narcotic Farm," freely accessible via Youtube (55 minutes, broadcast on U.S. public television in 2009; Produced and Directed by JP Olsen and Luke Walden) 
  • Campbell, Nancy. Discovering Addiction: The Science and Politics of Substance Abuse Research. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Chapter 1: "Framing the 'Opium Problem:' Protoscientific Concepts of Addiction, p. 20-25; Chapter 8: “The Hijacked Brain”) 
  • Hart, Carl L. “Viewing addiction as a brain disease promotes social injustice.” Nature 1, no. 55 (Feb 17, 2017): 1. 

The Lived Experience of Addiction

  • Shah, Nayan. Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco's Chinatown. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. (Chapter 3: Perversity, Contamination, and the Dangers of Queer Domesticity - focus on the subsection "Perverse Encounters in the Opium Den") 
  • Bourgois, Phillipe and Jeffrey Schonberg. Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009. (Chapter 3: A Community of Addicted Bodies)
  • Garcia, Angela. The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010. (Chapter 2: The Elegiac Addict, Chapter 3: Blood Relative) 
  • Knight, Kelly Ray. Addicted. Pregnant. Poor. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 2015. (Chapter 5: Stratified Reproduction and Kin of Last Resort)

V. Markets

History of Opium Markets

  • Courtwright, David T. Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001. (Introduction, Chapter 2: “The Little Three: Opium, Cannabis, and Coca” p. 31-39, Chapter 7: “Opiates of the People”) 

The Role of Pharma in the Current Opioid Crisis

Street Markets

Spin Off Markets

Extra Primary Sources, if of Interest:

VI. Stigma

Reporting and Photojournalism


Judging “Deservingness” of Care

General Advocacy

VII. Treatment and Policy

The History of Drug Control Policies

The Criminalization of Substance Use

The History of Therapeutics for Addiction

Contemporary Policies: The Standard of Care for Opioid Use Disorder Today