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The social logic of naloxone: peer administration, harm reduction, and the transformation of social policy

Faulkner-Gurstein, Rachel (2017) The social logic of naloxone: peer administration, harm reduction, and the transformation of social policy. Social Science & Medicine, 180. pp. 20-27. ISSN 0277-9536

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.03.013


This paper examines overdose prevention programs based on peer administration of the opioid antagonist naloxone. The data for this study consist of 40 interviews and participant observation of 10 overdose prevention training sessions at harm reduction agencies in the Bronx, New York, conducted between 2010 and 2012. This paper contends that the social logic of peer administration is as central to the success of overdose prevention as is naloxone's pharmacological potency. Whereas prohibitionist drug policies seek to isolate drug users from the spaces and cultures of drug use, harm reduction strategies like peer-administered naloxone treat the social contexts of drug use as crucial resources for intervention. Such programs utilize the expertise, experience, and social connections gained by users in their careers as users. In revaluing the experience of drug users, naloxone facilitates a number of harm reduction goals. But it also raises complex questions about responsibility and risk. This paper concludes with a discussion of how naloxone's social logic illustrates the contradictions within broader neoliberal trends in social policy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Elsevier
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2017 15:11
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:30

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