Painkillers & Pleasure in an Age of Anxiety


Are painkillers mundane medications safe for use to ease human suffering? Or are they drugs of abuse that cause addiction and death? Do they ameliorate pain, or do they cause it?

This book explores growing interest among medical practitioners and media outlets about the misuse or abuse of pharmaceutical pain medications. It contextualizes these emerging discourses of pharmaceutical abuse within the social and political histories from which they have emerged by exploring the role of pleasure and pain in shaping individualized modes of medication consumption in a neoliberal age of anxiety.

The book is divided into two parts: the first addresses the discursive construction of painkiller (ab)use as articulated in research and policy accounts; the second part provides an empirical investigation that draws on the lived experience of those who engage in non-medical consumption.

A Fine Line argues that, contrary to the stereotype of the seductive drug that coaxes its user into a life of dysfunction, there appears to be an intimate relationship between the motivations of pleasure seeking, health practice and productive citizenship among people who use painkillers for non-medical reasons.

George (Kev) Dertadian, Ph.D. is a social researcher interested in alcohol and other drugs, the sociology of crime and deviance, and social and cultural theory. Kev has conducted several qualitative projects on the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University and the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity, University of New South Wales, Australia. Kev is currently a Lecturer in Criminology as part of the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

At the launch, the author will discuss the motivations for and implications of the research in the book with Professor Carla Treloar, Head of the Centre for Social Research in Health and the Social Policy Research Centre.

To pre-order your copy of A Fine Line, please click on the link below;

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