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Beyond Prescription Drugs: International Perspectives on Supply Chains, Polydrug Use, and User Motives

Special issue call for papers from Drugs and Alcohol Today

Guest editors:

Aysel Sultan
Goethe University Frankfurt, Department of Educational Sciences

Aleksi Hupli
University of Tampere, School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Aims and Scope

Non-medical prescription drug use has gained increasing attention due to the use of opioids in North America and recent concerns in rising stimulant use for neuroenhancement in Western states (Maier et al., 2018). Less attention, however, has been given to non-medical use of prescription stimulants and other drugs in Southern and Eastern regions where statistical data is also scarce. Recent debates also indicate the need to research polydrug use, i.e. use of prescription medications as substitutes or additions to the drugs of first choice. The UNODC World Drug Report 2018 addressed the issue of spreading psychotropic drug use among injecting users, highlighting quick replacement of illicit drugs in open drug scenes by prescription and other synthetic drugs. Policy questions are also especially topical due to the upcoming ministerial segment convened by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2019. Thus, there remains a need for more research on user motives and polydrug use as well as policy responses regarding supply chains of prescription drugs.

In the intersection of these research and policy directions, a definitive interest lies on region-specific supply chains that have been mostly addressed in Western countries. This Special Issue aims to explore the interrelation between prescription stimulants and other drugs in the light of supply chains, whilst also broadening the geographical focus. Local policy approaches are pertinent as the level of liberty around drug policies also influences the willingness of users to seek help (Benfer et al., 2018).

The Special Issue themes include:

  • ways in which region-specific regulations determine and navigate supply chains of prescription drugs (stimulants and opioids) for non-medical use
  • prescription culture with a specific focus on young users including polydrug use of other drugs (both legal and controlled)
  • population subgroups especially prone to non-medical prescription use
  • International perspectives on cognitive enhancement in relation to supply chain within different (sub-) cultural circles and in light of emerging consumption trends
  • distribution channels including under the counter sale of pharmaceutical drugs, collusion of pharmacies with local police administration, physicians willing to easily prescribe strong prescription medicines, friends’ network, and social media
  • manufacture, distribution, and pricing of falsified prescription drugs among vulnerable groups (e.g. with low SES, high morbidity rates)

We welcome research especially from countries of the Global South and/or studies emphasizing linkages between Southern and Western states. The issue considers studies in sociology, education, psychology, human geography, as well as social and medical anthropology.

Deadlines and How to Submit:

Abstracts of 500 words should be emailed to and by February 28, 2019

The deadline for manuscript submission for chosen articles is June 15, 2019. All submissions must adhere to journal guidelines and will undergo blinded peer review. Accepted papers will be published online first prior to print publication which will follow in early 2020.

To review author guidelines for DAT: