Grievable lives? Death by opioid overdose in Australian newspaper coverage
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.
Opioid overdose deaths are increasing in Australia and around the world. Despite this, measures aimed at reducing these deaths such as safe injecting facilities and take-home naloxone continue to face obstacles to uptake. The reasons for this are manifold, but a key contributor is public discourse on opioid consumption and overdose. In this article we explore this public discourse using Judith Butler's work on ‘grievable lives’. The article analyses mainstream newspaper coverage of opioid overdose in Australia to map key articulations of overdose and to consider how public understandings of overdose are shaped. It then goes on to consider ways these understandings might be reshaped, looking at what have been called overdose ‘anti-memorials’ and a new website Livesofsubstance.org. In concluding we argue that until the lives of opioid consumers come to be considered grievable, the measures known to reduce overdose deaths may struggle to find public support.
This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant (DP170101669). The National Drug Research Institute is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund.
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Pagination8p. (p. 28-35)
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Science & TechnologyLife Sciences & BiomedicineSubstance AbuseOpioid overdoseMediaQualitative researchJudith ButlerTAKE-HOME NALOXONEDRUG-USERSSTIGMAPREVENTIONADDICTIONMEMORIALHEROINMANAGEMENTJUNKIEPOLICYHumansOpioid-Related DisordersNaloxoneAnalgesics, OpioidNarcotic AntagonistsMass MediaPatient Acceptance of Health CareAustraliaFemaleMaleDrug OverdoseNewspapers as TopicDisenfranchised Grief