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Accepted Paper:

Responsibility, Abstinence and Pleasure. A Case Study from Poland.  

Author:

Justyna Struzik (Jagiellonian University)

Paper short abstract:

By analysing recent public debates on harm reduction programmes, in my presentation, I will look at ways of understanding responsibility and pleasure in Poland. I will consider to what extent these understandings are shaped by the dominant abstinence model, and to what extent by state homophobia.

Paper long abstract:

Although the first harm reduction services in Poland were introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the abstinence-based approach, which prevailed for decades, assumed that a figure of responsible user or addict cannot exist. The only way to become responsible for people who use drugs was to completely dissociate oneself from drugs and choose abstinence. This belief, anchored not only in popular discourses on drug use but also in public policies, has made it difficult to implement some of the harm-reduction measures. The process of implementing harm reduction in recent years is being put to the additional test of public institutions taking on homophobic narratives. Taking into account this historical background and the recent populist and right-wing turn of events in the Polish government, I would like to consider to what extent and in what way state homophobia and the abstinence model present in Poland shape the concept of responsibility and responsible citizenship. In my paper, I would like to look at the recent public controversies surrounding harm-reduction programmes, addressed, among others, men who have sex with men and use drugs. The public debates initiated by government representatives and attacking harm-reduction programmes for the 'promotion of drug use and gay sex' will serve as a site of exploration of meanings and definitions of the concept of responsibility in the context of drug use and sexuality. The meanings of responsibility will be discussed together with the understandings of pleasure that emerges in public discourses on drugs and non-heteronormativity.

Panel Heal12
Responsible citizen, responsible addict - substance use, harm reduction and the politics of responsibility