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Drug use as a ‘practice of the self’: is there any place for an ‘ethics of moderation’ in contemporary drug policy?

by Cameron Duff; Intl.J.Drug Policy; Vol. 15; pg 385-393; 2004. Abstract originally posted: 11/30/2004; [www.doctordeluca.com/Library/AbstinenceHR/Place4EthicsModInDrugPolicy.htm]. Also available as Full Text PDF: [www.doctordeluca.com/Library/AbstinenceHR/Place4EthicsModInDrugPolicy.pdf].]

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Abstract:

This paper offers a series of critical interrogations of the principles and practice of harm minimisation. This critique draws from Michel Foucault’s account of ethics, pleasure and moderation in pointing to some significant gaps and conceptual problems within Australia’s National Drug Strategy. I argue that this strategy has had only indirect impacts upon the ways in which illicit drugs are consumed in Australia, and on the behaviour of individual users. Part of this problem lies in the ways in which the cultures and the contexts of illicit drug use have been conceptualised within contemporary drug policy. Following Foucault, I argue that drug use ought to be conceptualised as a distinctive ‘practice of the self’. I argue further that Foucault’s work on pleasure and ethics offers important new ways of understanding the changing nature of drug use for young people, as well as providing new conceptual bases for the design and delivery of harm minimisation strategies within those settings and contexts in which drug use takes place.
 

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Alexander DeLuca, M.D., FASAM

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Originally posted:  11/30/2004

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