© 2019

A Fine Line

Painkillers and Pleasure in the Age of Anxiety


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. The Way We Think About Non-Medical Use

  3. The Way People Experience Non-Medical Use

  4. Back Matter
    Pages 261-285

About this book


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 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. This book 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.


Drugs Policy, Addiction Studies pain management drug treatment drug dependence critical drugs research substance abuse social work pharmaceutical pain medications pharmacology

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social SciencesUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia

About the authors

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.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title A Fine Line
  • Book Subtitle Painkillers and Pleasure in the Age of Anxiety
  • Authors George C. Dertadian
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-981-13-1974-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-981-13-4713-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-981-13-1975-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXI, 285
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Medical Sociology
    Cultural Studies
  • Buy this book on publisher's site