David F. Musto, M.D., author of a pioneering history of drug-control policy and a former advisor on drug control to the Carter Administration, died Oct. 8 of a heart attack, the New York Times reported Oct. 13. He was 74.
Musto?s best-known book, ?The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control,? was published in 1973 ? the same year that President Nixon established the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
?The American Disease? covered the history of drug use and drug control policy in America from the 1860s onward, and, according to the New York Times, it ?struck a nonpolemical tone rare in a field dominated by partisan zealots.? Among other things, the book correlated fear of minority groups with public outcry over specific drugs. New editions were released in 1987 and 1999.
?Societies tend to react against drugs slowly, and the reaction usually comes just after the popularity of drugs has peaked,? Musto observed in a 1986 interview with The New York Times. ?Learning to hate drugs comes not so much from a government brochure as from repeated observation of the damage to acquaintances and society.?