La Trobe
244879_Fraser,S_2018.pdf (271.95 kB)
Download file

Grievable lives? Death by opioid overdose in Australian newspaper coverage

Download (271.95 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2021-06-03, 00:36 authored by Suzanne FraserSuzanne Fraser, Adrian FarrugiaAdrian Farrugia, Robyn DwyerRobyn Dwyer
© 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 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.


Publication Date



International Journal of Drug Policy




8p. (p. 28-35)





Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.