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SHI-00161-2018 R2 THN Politics of care opal.docx (74.78 kB)

Take-home naloxone and the politics of care

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journal contribution
posted on 05.03.2021, 05:31 by Adrian Farrugia, Suzanne Fraser, Robyn Dwyer, Renae Fomiatti, Joanne Neale, Paul Dietze, John Strang
© 2019 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness. ‘Take-home naloxone’ refers to a life-saving intervention in which a drug (naloxone) is made available to nonmedically trained people for administration to other people experiencing an opioid overdose. In Australia, it has not been taken up as widely as would be expected, given its life-saving potential. We consider the actions of take-home naloxone, focusing on how care relations shape its uses and effects. Mobilising Science and Technology Studies insights, we suggest that the uses and effects of naloxone are co-produced within social relations and, therefore, this initiative ‘affords’ multiple outcomes. We argue that these affordances are shaped by a politics of care, and that these politics relate to uptake. We analyse two complementary case studies, drawn from an interview-based project, in which opioid consumers discussed take-home naloxone and its uses. Our analysis maps the ways take-home naloxone can afford (i) a regime of care within an intimate partnership (allowing a terminally ill man to more safely consume opioids) and (ii) a political process of care (in which a consumer takes care of others treated with the medication by administering it ‘gently’). We conclude by exploring the political affordances of a politics of care approach for the uptake of take-home naloxone.


We express our thanks to the participants who gave so generously of their time, insights and experiences. We also thank the expert advisory panel guiding aspects of the research. 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. Joanne Neale is part-funded, and John Strang is supported, by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London. Neale and Strang are also supported by the Pilgrim Trust, and Strang is an NIHR Senior Investigator. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health or the Pilgrim Trust. The interviews were conducted by Adrian Farrugia, Renae Fomiatti, and Jeanne Ellard. Thanks go also to the two anonymous reviewers and journal editorial team whose comments helped improve the article.


Publication Date



Sociology of Health & Illness






17p. (p. 427-443)





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