Advertisement

Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 109, Issue 5–6, pp 653–661 | Cite as

“This drug turned me into a robot”: an actor–network analysis of a web-based ethnographic study of psychostimulant use

  • Caroline RobitailleEmail author
Special Section on Qualitative Research

Abstract

Objectives

This study aims to understand contemporary psychostimulant use within the socio-cultural context of Western societies. Two objectives are addressed: to describe accounts of practices related to psychostimulant use among members of selected online fora and to examine how these are related to representations of the self.

Methods

This research is a qualitative study of psychostimulant use among members of selected online fora. Drawing on actor–network theory (ANT), this study focuses on three publicly accessible online discussion fora belonging to the Reddit website. Non-participant observation was performed over a period of 18 months to observe exchanges between members, interactions with moderators, and esthetic elements. In total, 331 postings were collected from the selected fora for qualitative analysis. We present our analysis of one discussion forum, corresponding to 149 posts (515 pages, double spaced).

Results

Our study reveals the emergence of an online socio-cultural space formed around psychostimulant use. Members share their experiences openly and some offer guidance, sometimes contrary to prescribers’ directives. An ANT analysis points to translations fostering positive or negative subjectivities, related to psychostimulant effects, and to translations fostering healthy or harmful practices, related to r/Adderall as an agentic space.

Conclusion

These findings may contribute to shaping public health policies and interventions that acknowledge the values of the individuals they seek to help, and that attempt to reduce the potential harms associated with these pharmaceuticals as an alternative to more prohibitive approaches.

Keywords

Amphetamine Ethnography Qualitative research Social media 

Résumé

Objectifs

Cette étude cherche à comprendre les usages contemporains de psychostimulants dans le contexte socio-culturel des sociétés occidentales, et poursuit deux objectifs : décrire les pratiques liées à l’usage de psychostimulants, telles que rapportées par les membres des forums de discussion sélectionnés, et examiner comment ces pratiques sont liées aux représentations de soi.

Méthodes

Cet article présente une recherche qualitative concernant l’usage de psychostimulants auprès de membres de forums de discussion en ligne. Informée par la Théorie de l’acteur–réseau (TAR), cette étude explore trois forums de discussion publiquement accessibles et faisant partie du site web « Reddit ». Une observation non-participante des forums a été effectuée sur une période de 18 mois, portant attention aux échanges entre les membres, les interactions avec les modérateurs, et des éléments esthétiques. Au total, 331 billets ont été collectés afin de procéder à une analyse qualitative. Cet article présente l’analyse d’un forum de discussion, r/Adderall, correspondant à 149 billets (515 pages, espace double).

Résultats

Cette étude révèle l’émergence d’un espace socio-culturel façonné autour de l’usage de psychostimulants. Les membres partagent leurs expériences ouvertement et certains offrent des conseils, parfois contraires aux directives du prescripteur. Une analyse informée par la TAR trace deux processus de traduction. Le premier révèle l’émergence de subjectivités positives ou négatives en lien avec les effets des psychostimulants. Le deuxième montre l’émergence de pratiques saines ou liées à des méfaits concernant r/Adderall en tant qu’espace en ligne.

Conclusion

Les résultats de cette étude peuvent contribuer à la création de politiques et d’interventions de santé publique reconnaissant les valeurs des individus auprès desquels on souhaite agir. Cela peut aussi contribuer à réduire les méfaits potentiels associés à ces substances, en tant qu’alternative à des approches davantage prohibitives.

Mots-clés

Amphétamine Ethnographie Recherche qualitative Médias sociaux 

Notes

References

  1. Arria, A. M., Geisner, I. M., Cimini, M. D., et al. (2018). Perceived academic benefit is associated with nonmedical prescription stimulant use among college students. Addict Behav, 76, 27–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barratt, M., & Lenton, S. (2010). Beyond recruitment? Participatory online research with people who use drugs. International Journal of Internet Research Ethics, 3(12), 69–86.Google Scholar
  3. Benson, K., Flory, K., Humphreys, K. L., & Lee, S. S. (2015). Misuse of stimulant medication among college students: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev, 18(1), 50–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blanc, M. E., & Marchand, A. (2010). Quel est le rôle du travail dans l’incidence de la consommation de médicaments psychotropes au Canada? Rev can santé publique, 101(Suppl. 1), S63–S68.Google Scholar
  5. Caliandro, A.. (2017) Digital methods for ethnography: analytical concepts for ethnographers exploring social media environments. J Contemp Ethnogr 089124161770296.Google Scholar
  6. Chang-Kredl, S., & Colannino, D. (2017). Constructing the image of the teacher on Reddit: best and worst teachers. Teach Teach Educ, 64, 43–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen, L. Y., Crum, R. M., Strain, E. C., Alexander, G. C., Kaufmann, C., & Mojtabai, R. (2016). Prescriptions, nonmedical use, and emergency department visits involving prescription stimulants. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 77(3), e297–e304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cheng, T., & DeBeck, K. (2017). Between a rock and a hard place: prescription opioid restrictions in the time of fentanyl and other street drug adulterants. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 108(3), e325–e327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Collin, J. (2016). On social plasticity: the transformative power of pharmaceuticals on health, nature and identity. Sociology of Health & Illness, 38(1), 73–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. CTADS. (2015) Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drugs (CTADS): 2015 summaryGoogle Scholar
  11. Demant, J. (2009). When alcohol acts: an actor-network approach to teenagers, alcohol and parties. Body Soc, 15(1), 25–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Duff, C. (2011). Reassembling (social) contexts: new directions for a sociology of drugs. Int J Drug Policy, 22, 404–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duff, C.. (2014) Assemblages of drugs, spaces and bodies. Assemblages of Health: Deleuze’s Empiricism and the Ethology of Life: Springer.Google Scholar
  14. Duggan, M., Smith, A.. (2013) 6% of online adults are reddit users: young men are especially likely to visit the “front page of the internet.”. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, July 3.Google Scholar
  15. Enck, G. (2013). Ideals of student excellence and enhancement. Neuroethics, 6, 155–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gomart, E. (1999). Hennion a. a sociology of attachment: music amateurs, drug users. Sociol Rev, 220–247.Google Scholar
  17. Jerolmack, C., & Tavory, I. (2014). Molds and totems: nonhumans and the constitution of the social self. Sociological Theory, 32(1), 64–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kozinets, R. V. (2010). Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London, UK: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  19. Kozinets, R. V. (2015). Netnography: redefined. London, UK: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  20. Krieg, L. J., Berning, M., & Hardon, A. (2017). Anthropology with algorithms? An exploration of online drug knowledge using digital methods. Medicine Anthropology Theory, 3, 21–52.Google Scholar
  21. Latour, B. (2005) Reassembling the social: an introduction to actor-network theory. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Milne, A., Weijs, C. A., Haines-Saah, R. J., & McLaren, L. (2017). Parents’ online discussions about children’s dental caries: a critical content analysis. Canadian Journal of Public Health., 108(3), e265–e272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. ONDCP. (2011). Epidemic: Responding to America’s prescription drug abuse crisis. Washington: Executive Office of the President of the United States.Google Scholar
  24. Paillé, P., Mucchielli, A.. (2016) L'analyse à l'aide des catégories conceptualisantes. L'analyse qualitative en sciences humaines et sociales. 4e ed. Paris, France: Armand Colin 319–377.Google Scholar
  25. Persson, A. (2004). Incorporating pharmakon: HIV, medicine, and body shape change. Body Soc, 10(4), 45–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. reddiquette. (2018) January 22; https://www.reddit.com/wiki/reddiquette.
  27. Reddit Metrics. (2018), January 22; http://redditmetrics.com/top.
  28. Robards, B. (2018). ‘Totally straight’: contested sexual identities on social media site reddit. Sexualities, 21, 49–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Robitaille, C., & Collin, J. (2016). Prescription psychostimulant use among young adults: a narrative review of qualitative studies. Substance Use & Misuse, 51(3), 357–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rönkä, S., & Katainen, A. (2017). Non-medical use of prescription drugs among illicit drug users: a case study on an online drug forum. Int J Drug Policy, 39, 62–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sahakian, B. J., & Morein-Zamir, S. (2011). Neuroethical issues in cognitive enhancement. J Psychopharmacol, 25(2), 197–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sara, G., Lappin, J., Dobbins, T., Dunlop, A. J., & Degenhardt, L. (2017). Escalating patterns of emergency health care prior to first admission with amphetamine psychosis: a window of opportunity? Drug Alcohol Depend, 180, 171–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Törrönen, J., & Tigerstedt, C. (2018). Following the moving and changing attachments and assemblages of ‘addiction’: applying the actor network approach to autobiographies. Int J Drug Policy, 54, 60–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ulan, S., Davison, C., & Perron., M. (2013). First do no harm: responding to Canada’s prescription drug crisis. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.Google Scholar
  35. Weyandt, L. L., Oster, D. R., Marraccini, M. E., et al. (2016). Prescription stimulant medication misuse: where are we and where do we go from here? Exp Clin Psychopharmacol, 24(5), 400–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zinberg, N. (1984). Drug, set, setting: the basis for controlled intoxicant use. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Preventive MedicineUniversity of MontrealMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations