NPS and the methadone queue : spillages of space and time

Alexandrescu, Liviu (2017) NPS and the methadone queue : spillages of space and time. International Journal of Drug Policy, 40. pp. 50-56. ISSN 0955-3959

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Background Between 2008 and 2013, powder-stimulants sold by ‘head shops’ as novel psychoactive substances (NPS) or ‘legal highs’ have displaced heroin among groups of injecting substance users in Bucharest, Romania. Rising HIV-infection rates and other medical or social harms have been reported to follow this trend. Methods The study builds on two sets of original (N = 30) and existing (N = 20) interview data and on observations collected mainly at the site of a methadone substitution treatment facility. Results By disentangling the space–time continuum of the methadone queue, this paper argues that injecting drug users’ (IDUs) passage from opiates to amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) can be understood as ‘spillages’ of space and time. IDUs thus ‘spill’ out of the disciplinary flows of methadone treatment in two ways. The first is that of space and materiality. Drawing on actor-network theory (ANT), ATS/NPS appear embedded in reconfigured practices and rituals of injecting use. Such spillages see the pleasure-seeking self being fluidised in forming connections with, or spilling into, nonhuman actants such as substances, settings or objects. The second dimension of spilling is that of time. In this sense, heroin use is a ‘cryogenic strategy’ of inhabiting history and facing the transition to the market society that Romanian opiate injectors spill out of, not able to appropriate choice and legitimate consumption. The phenomenological qualities of stimulants that seem to accelerate lived time and generalise desire thus present them with an opportunity to alleviate a form of what a post-communist moral imaginary of transition frames as debilitating nostalgia. Conclusion ATS/NPS are revealed as fluid entities that do not only shape risk conditions but also alter shared meanings and contextual configurations of bodies, substances and disciplinary regimes in unpredictable ways.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
International Journal of Drug Policy
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in International Journal of Drug Policy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in International Journal of Drug Policy, 40, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.09.009
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? stimulantsinjectionnpsspillagemethadonetransitionhealth policymedicine (miscellaneous) ??
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Deposited On:
04 Jul 2017 10:02
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:45