Over the last 30 years, substantive progress has been made in terms of polices for and responses to alcohol and other drug-related problems in many EU Member States. Despite being one of the six founding member states of the European Communities, Italy is one of those countries that have not embraced a similar progressive approach, due to what we could call Italian anti-drug alarmism: an enduring social concern towards drugs that have drug users as main target of a punitive approach. The chapter examines the consequences of this long-lasting, anti-drug alarmism for Italian public debate and attitude, by exploring adolescents’ social representations of drugs users and using focus groups as research technic. The participants’ discussions were rather vague, drawing on a socially transmitted yet superficial knowledge, regarding nearly all of the subjects touched upon, with the exception of cannabis. The way they represent users is a litmus test of anti-drug alarmism, since they reproduce the stigmatising and dehumanising image of ‘hard drugs’ users as a uniform category of people, marked by a problem-driven consumption as well as by physical and moral degradation, which makes them a middle way between criminal and sick people. Nonetheless, it is important to stress that social representations are marked by the ability to change over time, so it is therefore possible to give those of the students a different direction, helping adolescents to develop less paternalistic and judgmental positions on drugs and drugs users.

Petrilli, E., Cacciamani, A., Beccaria, F. (2021). “You become nothing” - Adolescents’ social representations of drug users as a litmus test of Italian anti-drug alarmism. In C. Chatwin, G.R. Potter, B. Werse (a cura di), Who? Variation and distinction in the European drugs landscape (pp. 73-88). Lengerich : Pabst Science.

“You become nothing” - Adolescents’ social representations of drug users as a litmus test of Italian anti-drug alarmism

Petrilli, E;
2021

Abstract

Over the last 30 years, substantive progress has been made in terms of polices for and responses to alcohol and other drug-related problems in many EU Member States. Despite being one of the six founding member states of the European Communities, Italy is one of those countries that have not embraced a similar progressive approach, due to what we could call Italian anti-drug alarmism: an enduring social concern towards drugs that have drug users as main target of a punitive approach. The chapter examines the consequences of this long-lasting, anti-drug alarmism for Italian public debate and attitude, by exploring adolescents’ social representations of drugs users and using focus groups as research technic. The participants’ discussions were rather vague, drawing on a socially transmitted yet superficial knowledge, regarding nearly all of the subjects touched upon, with the exception of cannabis. The way they represent users is a litmus test of anti-drug alarmism, since they reproduce the stigmatising and dehumanising image of ‘hard drugs’ users as a uniform category of people, marked by a problem-driven consumption as well as by physical and moral degradation, which makes them a middle way between criminal and sick people. Nonetheless, it is important to stress that social representations are marked by the ability to change over time, so it is therefore possible to give those of the students a different direction, helping adolescents to develop less paternalistic and judgmental positions on drugs and drugs users.
Capitolo o saggio
social representation; adolescents; drug user; Italy; alarmism
English
Who? Variation and distinction in the European drugs landscape
978-3-95853-722-4
Petrilli, E., Cacciamani, A., Beccaria, F. (2021). “You become nothing” - Adolescents’ social representations of drug users as a litmus test of Italian anti-drug alarmism. In C. Chatwin, G.R. Potter, B. Werse (a cura di), Who? Variation and distinction in the European drugs landscape (pp. 73-88). Lengerich : Pabst Science.
Petrilli, E; Cacciamani, A; Beccaria, F
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/391908
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