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Evidence in European social drug research and drug policy

Evidence as a metaphor for knowledge characterised by the positivist traits of objectivity, validity and value-free truths is a contested commodity within the social science community, not least in the field of drugs research. The politics of knowledge production - including how research is produced, funded and interpreted through a lens clouded by values and ideology - is an ongoing topic for debate and enquiry. Nonetheless, the demand for objective data to inform evidence-based policy and practice, and to demonstrate the effectiveness of ‘what works’ and what is value for money, continues to grow exponentially. Research funders increasingly prioritise studies that have a demonstrable input into or impact on policy.
The contributors to this book cast a critical gaze on the concept of evidence. They challenge the positioning of evidence as the neutral product of an apolitical process and demonstrate, through case studies and policy analysis, the social construction of evidence by those who make and seek to influence policy. The authors question the epistemological and ontological basis of different forms of evidence; the selective accommodation of evidence and voices within dominant policy discourses; and the popular conception of evidence-based policy as a benchmark of good policymaking. Together, the various chapters provide a compelling insight into the complex contexts in which social drugs research evidence is produced, constructed, (mis)used and (mis)interpreted across Europe.

Aileen O’Gorman is a senior lecturer in Contemporary Drug and Alcohol Studies at the University of the West of Scotland, United Kingdom.

Gary R. Potter is a senior lecturer in criminology at Lancaster University Law School, United Kingdom.

Jane Fountain is a research consultant and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom.


Evidence in European social drug research and drug policy: an introduction
Aileen O’Gorman

Revisiting ‘Looking at the UN, smelling a rat. A comment on Sweden’s successful drug policy: a review of the evidence’
Peter D. A. Cohen

Evidence-based policymaking as depoliticised governance strategy: the case of European drug policy
Adam Standring

The user in Swedish abstinence-oriented opioid substitution therapy: a closer look at how user involvement bears upon policy formation
Mats Ekendahl & Patrik Karlsson

Rethinking evidence in online social drug use research
Dave Boothroyd & Sarah Lewis

Truth or tale? The production, selection, and interpretation of evidence informing municipal policy on public use of soft drugs
Danielle Chevalier

Drug testing for evidence? A sociotechnical practice
Bettina Paul & Simon Egbert

Sex & drugs & EDM: the use and distribution of drugs within a London chemsex scene
Christine Schierano & Gary R. Potter

2016, 132 pages, ISBN 978-3-95853-263-2, price: 15,- €