Differentiated normalization and drug transitions among rural youth in Ireland.
Prevalence surveys in Ireland indicate an increased trend of youth drug use with rural areas reporting comparable drug availability and prevalence of use in urban settings (Currie, C., Nic Gabhainn, S., Godeau, E., Roberts, C., Smith, R., & Currie, D. (Eds.). (2008). Inequalities in young people's health: HBSC international report from the 2005/2006 survey. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe). Few studies have explored the contexts and meaning of drug use on rural youth transitions in terms of increased drug prevalence, recent influx of rural drug activity, normative tolerance of recreational drug consumption and fragmentation of traditional rural communities. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 220 young people (15â€“17 years), and 78 service providers in a rural area of Ireland, in order to yield contextualized narratives of their experiences of drug use and achieve a wider exploration of processes, drug transitions and realities of rural youth. The thematic analysis of the research described varied pathways, attitudes and typologies of rural youth drug use, ranging from abstinent, recreational and moderated to maturing out. The research suggests support for a â€˜differentiatedâ€™ normalization theory (Shildrick, T. (2002). Young people, illicit drug use and the question of normalisation theory. Journal of Youth Studies, 5, 35â€“48) in terms of consumerist and normative rural youth drug use transitions in their negotiation of risk within integrating rural and urban dichotomies. In conclusion, it is recommended that drug education programmes need to situate localized rural drug taking behaviours within a wider understanding of rural community life.
This resource was contributed by The National Documentation Centre on Drug Use.