Risk-taking, control and social identities in narratives of Finnish polydrug users
Kataja, Kati; Hakkarainen, Pekka; Vayrynen, Sanna (2018)
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DRUGS-EDUCATION PREVENTION AND POLICY
Aims: Although polydrug use is increasingly recognized, knowledge of different patterns of such use remains scarce and underdeveloped. This study aims to identify the various patterns and cultural forms of polydrug use. Methods: The data used consist of interviews with 56 Finnish drug users from different backgrounds who were asked to describe their experiences of using and mixing multiple substances. The analysis was conducted by reconstructing polydrug use episodes into chronological narratives, with a focus on conscious risk-taking, control and identity formation. Findings: In our analysis, we recognized four key narrative types of polydrug use based on different levels of risk evaluation and management: “social recreation”, “self-discovery”, “hustling” and “addiction”. We interpret these narrative types as reflections of social identities shaped by different layers of drug culture and individual risk-taking strategies. Conclusions: Our findings illustrate that polydrug use is a highly diverse and heterogeneous phenomenon that ultimately operates based on the same cultural codes as drug subcultures in general, thereby representing cultural variation within the drug culture. What makes polydrug use special is that, instead of using individual substances, users combine multiple substances to achieve their goals.
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