“Focus on the young ones”: Discourses on substance abuse and age
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSelseng, L. (2015). “Focus on the young ones”: Discourses on substance abuse and age. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 32(3), pp. 277-293. Retrieved 25 Nov. 2015, from doi:10.1515/nsad-2015-0026 10.1515/nsad-2015-0026
BACKGROUND & AIMS – Previous research has shown that age categories play a vital part in the decision-making processes of counsellors in substance abuse services, yet very little is known about how the meanings of “age” and “substance abuse” are constructed and intertwined. This article aims to provide insights into the dynamic relationship between discourses on age and substance abuse. It explores the narratives of a group of counsellors on age and substance abuse, and looks at the subject positions this intersection produces. DESIGN – The data material consists of interviews with 23 counsellors working for the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV). The analysis is inspired by discourse psychology and intersectional and poststructuralist approaches. FINDINGS – Three positions are constructed: “the vulnerable youth”, “the formative youth” and “the agentic adult”. The article illustrates how the subject positions reinforce a “focus on the young ones” discourse. Findings are discussed against the background of the concept of ageism. CONCLUSION – The article highlights the significance of examining categories such as “substance abuse” and “age” as dynamic and contextual phenomena. It points out the significance of continually being aware of the influence age categories have in the process of differentiating and categorising substance abusers in social services.