Chelsea Dagen



Document Type



My generation was born into and grew up exposed to the “war on drugs”. We saw announcements on television, were talked to by parents and teachers, and saw individuals affected by substance abuse. Although the term "war on drugs" is not used as freely now, its effects, consequences and gains are still playing a role in our society and culture. I performed a content analysis of public service announcements and presidential rhetoric and I interviewed six people: there were hidden motives prevalent throughout the war on drugs, especially in the selection and presentation of information given to the public.

Drug information was presented using themes of a war model society, racial discrimination, and political expediency. The propaganda used in the war on drugs was used in a particular fashion, to criminalize African Americans. However, the distortion of information used not only perpetuated racial stereotypes but also contributed to the epidemics of prescription and opioid drug use occurring today. Though the war on drugs resembled a fight for social justice and purification, its harmful tactics caused disillusionment for the American public. This war has changed over time and is currently being reborn with a tone of open-mindedness towards drug addiction and treatment.



Thesis Comittee

Norma Anderson (Thesis Director)

Aseem Hasnain

Kim MacInnis

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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