The War on P (Pure, Methamphetamine) in New Zealand, a Moral-Panic?

Author(s): Tony Carton

ABSTRACT
This article illuminates how the transfiguration from the sociological concept of moral-panic to moral-regulation replicates wider socioeconomic conditions. The author urges that the Alcohol and Other Drug (named so in order that alcohol can also be categorised as a drug) clinicians reflect on the structural and reproductive impact of their work. The sociological concept, “moral-panic” has socio-clinical efficacy in the (AOD) treatment field. It has much affinity as history in the field is littered with the phenomenon. The author, a long time Alcohol and Drug clinician, now lecturer in the AOD field, considers the phenomenon in New Zealand around the use what is known locally as P (pure) or methamphetamine.

Various texts on a War on P campaign were analysed. It was found that, through various literary devices familiar themes emerged, evoking local folk devils and heroes. This analysis was carried out against a backdrop of creeping neo-liberalism, a new right-wing government committed to market liberalisation, and thereby the increased availability of a more dangerous yet licit drug, known as ethyl alcohol (Saunders, 1989). However, the concept of moral-panic can be deployed as a means to critically analyse the impact of various licit and illicit drugs under the theme of proportionality. Moreover, a sociological understanding of the prevention paradox can create a pathway to understand the role of moral-regulation and its ramifications as outlined by a governmental analysis. An appreciation of Moral-panic theory and Moral-regulation is crucial in the AoD field, as alternatives to dominant medical and psychological individualising discourses, in order to empower clinician and client alike and to politicise a discipline that traditionally eschews politicisation. The author argues that reflecting on the trajectory from moral-panic to moral-regulation creates insights into the dismantling western social state. From an ethical standpoint, it is important that clinicians become aware of the politically reproductive nature of their profession and how they are required to codify themselves and clients into ideological positions.

Source:

Journal: Sociology Mind
DOI: 10.4236/sm.2016.63008 (PDF)
Paper Id: 67919

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