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Injecting ATS/NPS use and drug abjection in Romania

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/05/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Drugs and Alcohol Today
Issue number2
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)142-149
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


– The purpose of this paper is to investigate a group of Romanian injecting substance users “migrating” from heroin to novel psychoactive substances (NPS) as a counterpublic seeking to escape the stigma of drug abjection.

– The findings are drawn from interview and observational data collected mainly at drug services sites in Bucharest, Romania.

– The stimulant powders sold by head shops appealed to experienced drug users because they seemed to emulate a consumerist ethos and cultivate a healthy, rational agent that popular discourses of addiction deem incompatible with drug careers. NPS and head shops were thus initially understood as a possibility of escaping “junk identities”. However, they ultimately sealed injectors as abject bodies that obstructed the collaborative goals of rehabilitation and health restoration. A sense of symbolic distance shaped by notions of moral and bodily hygiene separated heroin and NPS users, as the latter increasingly came to be seen and see themselves as flawed consumers of health and freedom.

Practical implications
– NPS retail spaces could present valuable opportunities to insert harm-reduction resources and harness counterpublic health strategies.

Social implications
– Dominant definitions of substance use as unavoidable paths into self-destruction push users towards unknown compounds they can attach more fluid meanings to. This suggests that prohibitionist language still obscures rational dialogue about existing and emerging drugs.

– The paper traces ATS/NPS in an Eastern European context offering an alternative vantage point to harm-focused perspectives.