Echoes of endlessness : time, memory, and experience for heroin users in Scotland
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Drawing on ethnographic research conducted from September 2016 to September 2017 in a county on the east coast of Scotland, this thesis explores heroin and poly-substance use in relation to time, temporality, and memory. The research took place within an array of recovery services and with individual heroin users, largely employing participant observation and interview methodologies. The first seven months of the research were primarily based in services, for the most part consisting of a third sector needle exchange, a community recovery group, and an under 25s drop-in centre. The latter five months were spent accompanying one scattered group of heroin users in their day to day lives. In the context of substance use patterns specific to post-industrial Scotland, and among the highest drug-death rates in Europe, the thesis traces time as it becomes entangled with addiction and recovery across intimate, social, and institutional domains. It seeks to excavate related experiences of grief, loss, and trauma, as well as affect, intimacy, and pleasure. The thesis explores perceptions and experiences of unending repetition, which were tied to prevailing medical models of addiction and contradictions inherent in predominant constructions of recovery. In spite of their repetitiveness, however, time and broader life trajectories come to be so incoherent and complex that they are immensely difficult to trace, interpret, and express: for both heroin users and for the myriad medical, judicial, and recovery-oriented institutions they interacted with daily. The work overall attempts to give an ethnographic portrait of how heroin addiction and poly-substance use are composed in time, memory, history, and landscape, while examining contemporary approaches to addiction and recovery in Scotland.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2023-06-24
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 24th June 2023
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