About DruGS

Focusing on alcohol and other drug use, the Drugs, Gender and Sexuality (DruGS) Program uses sociological, cultural studies, gender studies and related approaches to explore issues relating to drug use in Australia. Our special focus is the relationship between alcohol and other drug issues, gender and sexuality.

Key questions the research program explores include:

  • How do mainstream understandings of gender and sexuality shape responses to drug use, and how might researchers attend to these dynamics more effectively?
  • How are understandings of gender and sexuality made in public debates about drugs, and controversies over emerging issues such as the injection of performance and image enhancing drugs, the uptake of naloxone or ‘the new recovery’?
  • How are intimate relationships, the family and parenting positioned in relation to drug use?
  • How is drug use depicted in film, television and other popular culture and how do these depictions relate to policy, law and service provision?
  • How do developments in knowledge such as the rise of neuroscientific accounts of behaviour and changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders impact on understandings of drug use and responses to it?
  • How do public understandings of drug use and representations of it in the newsmedia, especially in relation to gender and sexuality, shape policy and practice?

Drawing on a range of social scientific research methods such as in-depth interviewing, policy analysis, cultural studies, ethnographic observation and international comparative collaborative techniques, this program of research directly informs policy, and helps develop clearer understandings and more productive approaches for improving alcohol and other drug-related health and social outcomes in Australia.

This program of research emerges out of a previous program (the Social Studies of Addiction Concepts (or SSAC) Program, 2013-2019, based at the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University). The work of that program overlaps with the new DruGS program, and can be found in the earlier blog posts on this site. Focusing on addiction concepts, that program established a significant body of literature on which the DruGS program continues to build. We thank the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society and La Trobe University, for supporting the transition of the SSAC program to its new mission and location.

The program is based at the Bundoora Campus of La Trobe University, Melbourne.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of all the lands on which La Trobe University operates, and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging.

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