The social contexts and cultural meanings of amphetamine-type stimulant use and their implications for policy and practice
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This chapter focuses on the social contexts and cultural meanings of amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) use (e.g. amphetamine, methamphetamine ('speed' and 'ice'), dexamphetamine, methylphenidate, MOMA (ecstasy)). Understanding these social contexts and cultural meanings is important because they shape the ways in which ATS are understood and experienced. The effects of ATS, from experiences of intoxication to experiences of 'dependence: are not simply the product of pharmacology. Drugs and drug use are simultaneously the product of the interpretations and shared meanings constructed by the people who consume them, and these interpretations and meanings are themselves the products of particular social, cultural, political, economic and historical contexts. Furthermore, these meanings are not fixed. Rather they are produced and reproduced in ongoing processes of social negotiation and contestation. Thus, ATS effects are produced through the interactions of pharmacology, subjectivity, micro-contexts (e.g. social relationships, symbolic meanings), and macro-contexts (i.e. broader social, cultural, political, economic and historical contexts). We begin the chapter with a brief history of ATS use. Although this history is touched on in other chapters in this book, it has particular relevance to a discussion on the social contexts of use, and so we include it here. This is followed by an overview of previous Australian research on the social contexts and cultural meanings of ATS use. We then present several case studies of ATS use in contemporary Australia. We conclude by considering how a focus on the social contexts and cultural meanings of ATS use might inform the future development of drug policy and practice.
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