On Intoxication

The meaning of altering consciousness

Some people visit a pub in the morning, others shoot heroin in a park. Some go on a wine trip to Tuscany, others take mdma and dance in the woods. Why is it that in our culture some forms of intoxication are accepted, while others are forbidden?

Through all times and all over the world, people have sought to get high. Today it is part of most people’s lives. Getting high gives a break from work and routines and can give us freedom and community – it helps us. But everyone knows someone for whom alcohol and drugs no longer gives pleasure, only pain, shame and sadness.The use of substances has become a means of coping with everyday life.

Øystein Skjælaaen has researched and worked with intoxicants, but also shares his own experiences. Through meetings with people and their stories, On Intoxication challenges our perceptions of the importance of getting high in society and for individuals.

An author’s virtues such as simplicity, clarity and precision makes "On Intoxication" a text that caters to an audience far beyond the universities' auditoriums and seminar rooms, but without being less suited as curriculum literature for that reason. (...) It is the book's display of nuances and complexity that unsettles the usual and "taken-for-granted", and which stimulates new ways of thinking about drugs and alcohol, abuse, intoxication and intoxicants. Skjælaaen brings reflection, and hopefully also debate

Morgenbladet, Norway

ON INTOXICATION is an important book on a theme that in one form or another concerns us all. It is easily read and therefore recommended for everyone.

Forebygging.no, Norway

...elegantly formulated and thought provoking about getting high

5/6, Aftenbladet, Norway

(...) very informative, well-structured, he deals with both the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs (...) I learned a great deal from 'On Intoxication', and I think other readers may also enjoy reading it.

My criminal mind, Norway

Some books have the power to make changes. Author Øystein Skjælaaen has written what can become such a book (...) 'On Intoxication' is worth reading, even if you are not particularly into in getting high. Reading about intoxication in a social context is interesting in itself

Sykepleien.no, Norway

An engaging and courageous book about getting high, and being human. […] I am most impressed with Skjælaaens "from the inside" perspective. Here there is no distant scientist who views the others with judgmental moralism.

Ragnhild Fjellro, Forskerforum, Norway

The book is refreshingly free of moralization and speculation (...) Writing about this topic in a way that fascinates both those with almost as much knowledge as the author himself and the man in the street at the same time is very well done (...)

Universitas, Norway

Skjælaaen is the inquisitive Aristotelian, looking for examples and species from life's odd crowds. [...] carries with it past and cultural history - and a far richer arsenal of past texts and experiences [and] opens up to the varied and street-like language that surrounds us humans […] We are left with a sober book on getting high. The most important thing is that Skjælaaen opens up for a discussion about the good, true and beautiful that is also part of the effects of getting high in this world.

Bjarne Riise Gundersen, Morgenbladet, Norway

It is entertaining, enlightening (...), without dving deeply into the academic material. The book contains historical, juridical, psychological and medical considerations. The author has, for the most part, used his sociologist glasses and is concerned about igtting high in light of, among other things, context, belonging, identity and community. What the drug gives is more central than what it takes.

Tidsskriftet (Norwegian Medical Journal), Norway

An encompassing essay about the ambivalent role that drugs and alcohol play in our lives. From party to medicine, from sin to shame, the author offers a deep understanding of the role of mind-altering substances that are as present in our daily lives as the air that we breathe.

Leonardo Garzaro do Amaral, Hiperborea, Brazil