Echoes from History: Women, Drug-use, and Cultural Shame


  • Arhonda Lynch Phd Student UCC



women, shame, feminism, recovery, addiction


Women who use drugs continue to be mostly overlooked in research or are depicted as promiscuous and licentious. The legacy of a patriarchal past and moralistic societal attitudes still features heavily on the pathways to recovery for women. This project will focus on the structural barriers faced by women in accessing supports for alcohol and/or drug use. The aim is to explore the potential harm caused to women due to the structural and often patriarchal barriers they experience in accessing supports. Historically, drug treatment and policies have emerged from knowledge produced by a ‘male-based society’, for what was perceived to be, predominantly a ‘male problem’. Lorde asserts the ‘master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house’ thus male-based knowledge production will not serve women as well as it does men. The dominant culture has valued a punitive ideology of addiction that dismisses the needs of women who use drugs and fails to address the abuses perpetrated against them. Challenging this ideology, through viewing this as a feminist and human rights issue, will be the core argument within this project.


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