Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Corpus-Based Discourse Analysis of a Reddit Com...


Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Corpus-Based Discourse Analysis of a Reddit Community of Users of Crystal Methamphetamine: Mixed Methods Study

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article numbere48189
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/09/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>JMIR Infodemiology
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug resembling glass fragments or shiny bluish-white rocks that can be taken through smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting the powder once it has been dissolved in water or alcohol. The objective of this study is to examine how identities are socially (discursively) constructed by people who use methamphetamine within a subreddit for people who regularly use crystal meth. Using a mixed methods approach, we analyzed 1000 threads (318,422 words) from a subreddit for regular crystal meth users. The qualitative component of the analysis used concordancing and corpus-based discourse analysis to identify discursive themes informed by assemblage theory. The quantitative portion of the analysis used corpus linguistic techniques including keyword analysis to identify words occurring with statistically marked frequency in the corpus and collocation analysis to analyze their discursive context. Our findings reveal that the subreddit contributors use a rich and varied lexicon to describe crystal meth and other substances, ranging from a neuroscientific register (eg, methamphetamine and dopamine) to informal vernacular (eg, meth, dope, and fent) and commercial appellations (eg, Adderall and Seroquel). They also use linguistic resources to construct symbolic boundaries between different types of methamphetamine users, differentiating between the esteemed category of "functional addicts" and relegating others to the stigmatized category of "tweakers." In addition, contributors contest the dominant view that methamphetamine use inevitably leads to psychosis, arguing instead for a more nuanced understanding that considers the interplay of factors such as sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, and neglected hygiene. The subreddit contributors' discourse offers a "set and setting" perspective, which provides a fresh viewpoint on drug-induced psychosis and can guide future harm reduction strategies and research. In contrast to this view, many previous studies overlook the real-world complexities of methamphetamine use, perhaps due to the use of controlled experimental settings. Actual drug use, intoxication, and addiction are complex, multifaceted, and elusive phenomena that defy straightforward characterization. [Abstract copyright: ©Andrew Lustig, Gavin Brookes. Originally published in JMIR Infodemiology (https://infodemiology.jmir.org), 29.09.2023.]