• Bluelight HOT THREADS
  • Let's Welcome Our NEW MEMBERS!

News Positive drug stories - announcing a new research publication in collaboration with Bluelight.org

At Bluelight.org we encourage collaborative partnerships between academic researchers and our community. In 2016 we were approached by Liam Engel with a proposal to utilise data from Bluelight for his PhD, using an engaged and participatory approach. Liam is now Dr Engel (well done!) and we are thrilled to announce research from our collaboration has been published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory.

People who use drugs understand drugs and drug use in ways that are often different to the way knowledge of drug use is constructed within the dominant medico-legal discourse. Their experiences are, more often than not, represented in negative ways within dominant discourse, a disconnect that can create adverse consequences for people who use drugs, through the production of stigma and shame leading to poor health and social outcomes. A key difference in how drugs are understood by people who use drugs is the capacity of the former to recognize positive aspects of drug use and create more agentic subjectivities for themselves concerning the use of drugs. Using a thematic analysis of the online forum Australian Drug Discussion, hosted by Bluelight.org, we identify positive drug stories and the contexts of their emergence, as subversions or modifications of dominant understandings. We argue that positive understandings of drug use, as well as recognition of the way their expression serves to generate agency for people who use drugs within or against the confines of dominant discourse, may provide opportunities to limit further the harms flowing from stigmatization and negativity.

Through this analysis, the authors came up with some strategies about ways in which we can promote more positivity when discussing drugs:
1. Respect the unique and valuable drug knowledge of consumers,
2. Subvert and challenge stigmatising terms,
3. Favour benefit maximisation over harm reduction,
4. Recognise the diversity of drug use,
5. Acknowledge the support and altruism of drug communities.

The publisher’s version of this paper can be accessed, but if you can’t get around the paywall, you can also access a PDF of the accepted manuscript.

Feel free to comment on the paper here - we'd love to hear your views on it.

Could you suggest an easier link to the unlocked article or a how to for those who can't get around this so easily.

Anyway I'm reading the paper now.. I'll be back with my thoughts..
"A key element in the way this discourseaffects PWUD is the characterization of drugs as being per-sonally dangerous, morally evil, and constitutive of criminality"

"PWUD can become victim to self-stigmatization"

"in turn, can lead to physical (Ahernet al.2007) and mental health issues (Birtel et al.2017; vonHippel et al.2018), secretive behaviors that increase risks ofharm (Palamar2012), and even to increased drug use.."

Absolutely. The pervasive views that we as PWUD are inherently coming from or into this darker moral space absolutely gets reflected on how we feel within ourselves and often times, to put it crudely, if you're told enough times you're a bad person.. you become a bad person. PWUD can also lose some hope for themsleves as these "bad" people as a result of this both outward and self-stigmatization and it can increase the occurences, length, and intensity of relapses or maybe lead to addictions which might not have been otherwise with a more positive outlook. I know this, because, to a degree - I've been through this myself.

Web-based drug forums (also historically called online bul-letin boards) are used by PWUD to share experiences, talk about their use of drugs, and engage in commentary of drug policy. These discussions collectively form a kind of alterna-tive way of knowing about drugs that stands in contrast to the knowledge produced within dominant medico-legal dis-course. They bring into view ways of knowing that are often repressed or derogated within that discourse in a mannerthat contests the assumptions underpinning dominant know-ledge. Such forums are usually publicly accessible, though not widely popular, have coherent if sometimes tacit regula-tions, involve moderation and boundary management by administrators and/or forum users, and have implicit rules which structure the legitimacy of the content and interactions. Through this ongoing social process, they come to bemore than just ‘online talk’. While mediated by the online environment, they nevertheless constitute communities(seeHaythornthwaite2007). They are places where truths are established, contested, and remade and, more importantly, experience and identity are negotiated in common among peers, and with direct (if not always achieved) attention to safe and inclusive practices..

This is a beautiful summary of how these forums work and I think some arrangement of of these words could fo right into our mission here. It's certainly a part of my mission being here, to facilitate an open, stigma-free and educational harm reduction based environment. Some kidding around aside, this place is examplary for this kind of discourse I believe.

The results which follow here are all wonderful examples of this site and what this site is really all about. I particularly liked this quote from a member (not sure who it was as it all seems to be anonymized and anywhere between 1999-2016)
I don’t see it as bluelights job or goal to look good in the eyes ofcops, politicians, media, teachers, or any of that shit. We aren’t here to change opinions, we are here to give information. I would ask, where is the REAL HR in curbing open and honest drug discussion in the name of the already impossible goal of making this site look respectable to the anti drug community?
THAT is wonderful! And exactly how I feel about this site. Maybe I'm naive but I have little to no fear of law enforcement, exposure, or any of that from my presence on this site. What am I doing? Working as an agent to reduce the harm and potentially save lives? Yes, there are counterarguements to this but my motives are for the good, and I think mostly everyone here is on the same page. We are here to help, not to harm, or overthrow these ridiculous anti-drug stigmas which in recent years are overthrowing themselves as finally being seen for what damage they are to modern forward thinking societies. At least in Canada, a lot of progress is being made very quickly.
Equally, at an individual level, these stories can, when read by those whom discourse understands as the authorities who determine and enact policies and practices to regulate the lives of PWUD, provide important insights which help destabilize the negative assumptions about PWUD on which authoritative discourse depends. In this case, it is not just the stories themselves which matter but the evidence forhow, in negotiating the complex subjectivity of drug use, people exhibit the kinds of agency and insight into their own condition that might encourage more formal inclusionof PWUD within policy making.
I sure hope so. This would be the greener grass if this does come true as much as I'd like it to. In some ways, it already is.
And from this question emerges an important further research question: in what ways, and with what positive effects have medical and legal authorities actively included PWUD within policy formation and what impact has this had upontheir own subjectivities as expertson drug use and management?
I can say within Canada a couple anecdotal stories about this. This year I've noticed more and more front line crisis workers around harm reduction and overdose prevention looking for people with "lived experience" as one of, if not THE only prerequisite. Being someone who is, or was in it for awhile is becoming more and more recognized as the sort of person who need to be a part of this workforce. Canadian PWUDs are getting more and more of a voice as the harm reduction pill of Canadas drug strategy takes off exponentially and I see some real strides have been taken. Especially the last 2-3 years.

Actually,The International HIV / AIDS Alliance has set out guidelines specifically for hiring PWUD employees are are still in active use as people with "lived experience" now since 2015. It is no longer a point of discrimination for an HIV / AIDS worked to be PWUD by employment standards.

@Alex_1991 excellent feedback - thank you. Agree - that in Canada, there does seem to be a lot more acceptance that PWUD should be at the table with an active role, not just consulted in a tokenistic way. I'm not from Canada, but certainly have read a lot from Canadians that seems very promising in this regard.
I’m taking Sam e-800 kilograms and I’m gonna probably for life stay on the 800!milograms but tomorrow I’m gonna go back to being on70-milligram of vyvanse is it ok to take not at same to but maybe an he apart thank you😴