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Study, Nov/21: Online interpretive repertoires on the use of benzos & z-drugs


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The full title of this Belgian study is "And they slept happily ever after: Online interpretive repertoires on the use of benzodiazepines and z-drugs".






Drawing on a critical social-psychological framework for discourse analysis, data from a popular forum for people over 50 were analysed to study how the habitual use of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs (BZD/Z) is discursively negotiated by Flemish older adults. We present five different repertoires (risk and addiction; alternative pathways; suffering; rationalisation; cessation) that illustrate how a pharmaceutical imaginary of these medications is constructed online and how posters act as reflexive users taking on a health role. Most repertoires emerge from a tacit norm on the undesirability of medication use for sleeping problems. In the alternative pathways and cessation repertoires this norm is implicitly accepted by focussing on how to either prevent or overcome chronic use with various alternative solutions or through tapering off, while the risk and addiction repertoire is used to more openly defend and discursively magnify the idea that medication has to be avoided at all cost. We discuss how this reflects a prevailing imperative of health and ethos of healthicisation of sleep. The rationalisation and suffering repertoires on the other hand challenge this norm by defending medication use. We further explore how these repertoires are used to self-position as either 'noble non-user', 'deserving and/or compliant patient' or 'rational user', reflecting previously found moral positions in offline settings. Our data add another position that has thus far not been discussed extensively with regard to prescription medication use, namely that of a 'recovered user'. As such, this study shows how this particular online community is a site for contestation of health promotion and medical/pharmaceuticalised discourses on sleep by users and non-users alike and offers a unique insight into how people in the age group that is known to use most BZD/Z discursively negotiate the use of these medications in pseudonymised online interactions.



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