Behind Closed Doors: Risk and Recreational Drug Use in Rural Northern Ireland

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Abstract

This article explores the risks associated with drug use that occurs in private spaces in a rural part of Northern Ireland. Findings are based on data from an ethnographic study conducted with self-reported “recreational” drug users between 2007 and 2012. Private residences were a common and, for some, a more desirable setting for drug use, rather than public spaces. The appeals of using drugs in private spaces centered round reduced risk of detection, and therefore, disclosure of drug use, convenience, lack of boundaries, and reduced cost. Data indicate that drug use within private settings can exacerbate health risks because of increased quantities of consumption, risky polydrug use, lengthier drug episodes, and an absence of formal control and regulation. Recommendations are made for further research in the area and for private residences to be better recognized as risk environments for recreational drug users in public health agendas and policy.

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