Munroe Craig

Munroe Craig

Cultural Identities Influencing Paradigms of Harm Reduction: Safer NiteLife Communities

There is a large research gap in studying recreational substance user habits, yet they make up the vast majority of people who use psychoactive substances. Substance users come from very diverse sociohistorical and economic positionalities and backgrounds; in order to understand substance users who require treatment, public health needs to understand the ways in which all substance users navigate their experiences. Through phenomenological analysis, the presenter will demonstrate the importance of understanding social, economic and sub-cultural histories in constructing safer practices around substance use.

Tracing the history of how people who use psychoactive substances understand their own social world can help outreach workers better deliver harm reduction and treatment services in the most accessible manner. For example, Vancouver’s rave community has a different history than Toronto’s rave community does. Public health service delivery needs to be re-framed in relation to these different realities to be effective. Further, the rise of massive music festivals creates a new challenge for harm reduction outreach workers. Most written guides for psychedelic sitting are framed within the discourse of the new age movement within the context of transformative festivals, yet increasingly festivals are highly secularized. Examples of reframing the discourse around facilitating difficult psychedelic experiences, will be examined in relation to mainstream music festivals.

Reframing Methods/Conclusion
In order to keep pace with new trends in psychoactive substances, as well as understanding the underlying processes of problematic substance use, research needs to refocus around holistic understandings that pose substance use as a sociocultural and hyper-complex phenomenon. By changing the discourse to reflect a plurality of being, those involved in treatment provision for substance use or dependence can better engage in supporting those who do develop problematic relationships to substances.

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