Drugs' Pleasures

Robin Bunton, John Coveney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Discourses on drug use and public health show a relative neglect of the study of pleasure. We argue that work on the social, cultural and historical specificity of bodies and the emotions can be usefully drawn upon to study the pleasures of drug use. This article reflects upon the nature of pleasure and its under-representation in public health approaches to drug use and methodologies. It considers four varieties of drug pleasures: carnal pleasure, disciplined pleasure, ascetic pleasure and ecstatic pleasure drawing upon historical work on drugs and related areas. Some observations are made on the pre-eminence of certain drug pleasures today and some tensions and contradictions, which reflect broader contradictions in social values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Drugs
  • Health behaviour
  • Pleasure


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