AIMS - The aim of this study is to investigate the medicalising of gambling problems by comparing the political discussions on gambling in the Swedish Parliament in the early 1970s and the early 2010s. DESIGN - Against a theoretical background on medicalising processes in general, and medicalisation of gambling problems in particular, we have analysed discussion protocols and parliamentary bills in the Swedish Parliament from the years 1970-1975 and 2012-2013. RESULTS - The problem descriptions of the 1970s and 2010s are, in certain respects, strikingly similar, identifying proactive operators such as the gambling companies and highlighting an inadequate legal framework. But where the MPs of the 1970s put some effort into describing the drab society which fed the need for gambling, the elected representatives of the 2010s shortcut to individual dependence. CONCLUSIONS - EU membership and the development of the Internet have made effective control and regulation impossible in the early 2010s and the political handling of the Swedish gambling problem is therefore a clear example of how market liberalisation can pave the way for individualisation, medicalisation and depoliticisation of social problems.
AIM - To analyse the Swedish drug question by examining dominant concepts used to portray the problem in the years 1839-2011. Theoretically, we understand these concepts as ideological tools that shape the political initiatives and administrative efforts to deal with the problem. The study is based on two kinds of source material: articles in medical journals from the years 1839-1964 and public reports on vagrancy, the alcohol problem, mental health and the drug problem from the years 1882-2011.
FINDINGS - During the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century the drug problem remained an individual problem handled by doctors. When the Swedish drug problem was established as a political question from the 1960s on, it also came to disengage itself from the medical frame of understanding. Medically oriented descriptions of “dependence” and “addiction” have appeared adequate or attractive when, for example, the socially motivated coercive treatment solution has been discredited (as in the 1970s), when there has been a desire to connect with an internationally accepted terminology (as in the 1990s) or when a new organisational model with a stronger professional support has been on the agenda (as in the 2010s). But otherwise the social problem description has called for concepts that have more or less explicitly dissociated themselves from speculations in physiological or psychological predispositions for substance abuse.