This paper explores the connection between meaning and corporeal pleasure in drug use experience through considering accounts of inhalant use made by marginalised young people in Melbourne, Australia. Inhalants (also known as volatile substances or solvents) have a reputation internationally as drugs of desperation rather than enjoyment. Corporeal pleasure as a motive for inhalant use is generally overlooked in policy, drug research literature and health education—as is frequently the case also in relation to other forms of drug use practiced by marginalised peoples. In contrast, harms such as brain damage and death are strongly emphasised.
This discussion is based on a narrative analysis of qualitative interviews with 27 young people, conducted as part of a larger study. A purposive sample of study participants was recruited through youth homelessness and drug treatment agencies to explore experiences of inhalant use among socially marginalised young people.