A newly published article lead-authored by Dr Kiran Pienaar analyses the representation of addiction in two major Australian alcohol and other drug-related online resources, and uses feminist and science studies theory to argue that representations of these kinds shape as much as reflect addiction, also helping to shape the experiences of people diagnosed with drug addiction or dependence. The article outlines a new online resource planned as part of an ARC-funded research project based in SSAC, spelling out its intentions and its aim to offer new understandings of addiction and self.
SSAC’s Professor Suzanne Fraser has also led new publications on understandings of addiction. Her recently published article on two expert autobiographies written by neuroscientists of addiction raises pressing questions about objectivity and scientific method. Both books, Fraser argues, vividly demonstrate the weaknesses of simplistic demands for objectivity and evidence. She uses Bruno Latour’s work on modes of existence and veridiction to argue for more openness in thinking about questions of addiction, and less reliance on the authorising role of scientific method.
Fraser is also a co-author of a recent article comparing Australian and Swedish drug policy. The article is a collaboration between staff at NDRI (SSAC’s home) and at Stockholm University’s drug research centre, SoRAD. Using theories of metaphor it analyses the treatment of three key themes in the two countries’ national drug policy documents: addiction, gender and social inclusion, finding that each document is informed by nationally specific concepts such as Sweden’s notion of the ‘folkhemmet’. The two policies deal with difference in unique ways, identifying particular ways in which sameness – between drug users and the broader population – can and should be achieved or re-established. In analysing these metaphors the article argues for the need to attend to the role of informal, implicit or unrecognised thinking and practice in shaping policies.
Again exploring policy, specifically policy and media treatment of methamphetamine use and fears about a ‘meth epidemic’ in Australia, Fraser has also co-authored a commentary bringing together a series of other publications produced at NDRI. Together, these works point to serious weaknesses in research and policy reporting on the nature and scale of methamphetamine problems. In particular, they identify excessive claims to addictiveness and harm, oversimplification of the causal role of the drug in social problems, and overstatement of the evidence base. The commentary calls on researchers to exercise extreme care in reporting on these issues.
Also in the pipeline are two articles lead-authored by Dr Robyn Dwyer. Both currently under review, the articles take a close look at screening and diagnostic tools used internationally to identify and measure addiction and other drug use problems.
SSAC team members are also working, individually and in teams, on a range of other publications. To access complete lists of their works, follow the links attached to their SSAC profile pages.
Fraser, S. (2015). A thousand contradictory ways: Addiction, neuroscience and expert autobiography. Contemporary Drug Problems, 42, (1), pp. 38-59.
Moore, D. and Fraser, S. (2015). Causation, knowledge and politics: Greater precision and rigour needed in methamphetamine research and policy-making to avoid problem inflation. Addiction Research & Theory, 23, (2), pp. 89-92.
Moore, D., Fraser, S., Törrönen, J. and Eriksson Tinghög, M. (2015). Sameness and difference: Metaphor and politics in the constitution of addiction, social exclusion and gender in Australian and Swedish drug policy. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26, (4), pp. 420-428.
Pienaar, K., Fraser, S., Kokanovic, R., Moore, D., Treloar, C. and Dunlop, A. (2015). New narratives, new selves: Complicating addiction in online alcohol and other drug resources. Addiction Research & Theory, Early online.