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Home > Drug fatalities and treatment fatalism: complicating the ageing cohort theory.

Dennis, Fay (2021) Drug fatalities and treatment fatalism: complicating the ageing cohort theory. Sociology of Health & Illness, Early online, . https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13278.

External website: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9...

Deaths related to drug 'misuse' remain at an all-time high in the United Kingdom (UK). Older heroin consumers are particularly at risk, with the highest rates of deaths among people aged 40-49 and the steepest rises in the over-fifty age bracket. Accordingly, a popular theory for the UK's increase in drug-related deaths, made by the government, and propelled in the media, is that there is an ageing cohort of heroin users with age-related health complications predisposing them to an overdose. However, drawing on in-depth interviews with those people deemed to be most at risk, this article works to complicate this theory, with participants citing a shift in (a) experience and responsibility, (b) route of administration, (c) desired effects, (d) acceptance of their drug use and 'user' status and (e) valuing health. Disrupting age as a given risk factor, this article turns attention away from the individual and these 'natural' processes to what participants describe as a singular, punitive, and inflexible treatment system and its intersecting structures. Approaching life and death as a matter of sociomaterial 'mattering', this article rethinks a reductionist, causal link between age and drug-related death with a treatment despondency and fatalism that could prove fatal.


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