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Type: Journal article
Title: Users, using, used: A beginner's guide to deconstructing drugs discourse
Author: Brook, Heather Jane
Stringer, Rebecca
Citation: International Journal of Drug Policy, 2005; 16(5):316-325
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 2005
ISSN: 0955-3959
School/Discipline: School of History and Politics : Politics
Statement of
Heather Brook and Rebecca Stringer
Abstract: In recent times there has been a concerted effort from some researchers, reformers and practitioners in the alcohol and other drug field to convince policy-makers, politicians and others that heroin use is, above all, a health problem. This push has occurred in a discursive framework pitting progressive and compassionate harm minimisation strategies against more punitive programs of prohibition. Within this framework, harm minimisation strategies are frequently cast as a response to heroin use as a health problem, while prohibition and punishment are characterised as responses to drug dependence as criminal. We argue that this polarisation of crime/prohibition against health/harm minimisation is a political red herring. Using deconstructive tools from contemporary social-political theory, we show how competing understandings of heroin use may mask a different kind of political contest. Exploring the discursive intertwining of people, practices and substances, we challenge the appropriateness of figuring different proposals to govern heroin use as a contest between science and politics, or of health-centred versus crime-centred strategies. We ask after the consequences of figuring criminal and medical arenas as rival frameworks for governing heroin use, and point to the perils associated with the apportionment of blame and victimhood therein. The broader aim underpinning our work is to locate and unpick political resistance to progressive harm minimisation strategies.
Keywords: Prohibition; Crime; Harm minimization; Health; Discourse; Heroin
DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2005.05.002
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Appears in Collections:Politics publications

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