“My body breaks. I take solution.” Inhalant use in Delhi as pleasure seeking at a cost

R.A. Gigengack

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background: Inhalant use has existed in India since the 1970s and has increased significantly over the last decades, especially among street-oriented young people. The latter constitute a heterogeneous category: children from street families, children 'of' the street, rag pickers, and part-time street children. There are also inhalant-using schoolchildren and young people in slums. Methods: Fieldwork was conducted for 1 year. Team ethnography, multi-sited and comparative research, flexibility of methods and writing field notes were explicit parts of the research design. Most research was undertaken with six groups in four areas of Delhi, exemplifying six generic categories of inhalant-using street-oriented young people. Results: Inhalants in India are branded: Eraz-Ex diluter and whitener, manufactured by Kores, are used throughout Delhi; Omni glue in one specific area. There is a general lack of awareness and societal indifference towards inhalant use, with the exception of the inhalant users themselves, who possess practical knowledge. They conceive of inhalants as nasha, encapsulating the materiality of the substances and the experiential aspects of intoxication and addiction. Fragments of group interviews narrate the sensory appeal of inhalants, and an ethnographic vignette the dynamics of a sniffing session. These inhalant-using street children seek intoxication in a pursuit of pleasure, despite the harm that befalls them as a result. Some find nasha beautiful, notwithstanding the stigmatization, violence and bodily deterioration; others experience it as an overpowering force. Conclusion: A source of attraction and pleasure, inhalants ravage street children's lives. In this mysterious space of lived experience, their self-organization evolves. Distinguishing between hedonic and side effects, addiction helps to understand inhalant use as at once neurobiological, cultural, and involving agency. The implications are that India needs to develop a policy of treatment and employment to deal with the addiction. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)810-818
    JournalInternational Journal of Drug policy
    Volume25
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Keywords

    • volatile substance misuse
    • street children
    • india
    • intoxication
    • addiction
    • science
    • rights
    • city

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