Drugs: Bodies Becoming “Normal”

Dennis, Fay. 2016. Drugs: Bodies Becoming “Normal”. Journal of Media and Culture, 19(1), ISSN 1441-2616 [Article]

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"People say, “don’t you ever want to come off?” I don’t know. The thought of me getting up without taking something is totally... to me that’s normal. If I haven’t taken anything then I’m not normal. And for me to even, I can’t contemplate not taking something, you know. I’m not a lost cause. I know what my problem is. It’s other people that want me to stop. I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to. Does that make sense to you?" (Mya)

This extract is taken from an interview that formed part of my doctoral research looking at people’s experiences of injecting drug use and treatment services in London, UK. Here I consider one of the ways participants described their use of drugs through a concept of becoming “normal.” I pay particular attention to Mya’s account and explore the very sense-making that her question (above) demands. Mya uses the concept of normality not only to reflect how drugs have become part of her everyday routines, or part of feeling normal, but actually in materially becoming herself—in embodying a “normal body.” As she puts it, “if I haven’t taken anything then I am not normal.” In this sense, Mya’s problem is not the drugs, but the people who want her to stop taking them. This understanding is important for challenging recent policy shifts towards reducing opiate replacement/substitution services in the UK (HM Government; Home Office).

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Publisher full text is licensed with CC-BY-NC-ND


bodies; embodiment; drug use; becoming

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April 2016Published

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Date Deposited:

06 Oct 2017 15:02

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:40

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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