Producing planned hedonism among opiate users in an online drug market

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter examines the relationship between drug distribution modes and users’ presentation of self. It argues that the design and operation of illicit drug marketplaces produce specific subjectivities among dealers and buyers. It uses the case of opiate buyers in a darknet cryptomarket to examine the relationship between market processes and drug culture. Taking a material culture perspective, it discusses what aspects of potency are sought after and how the drugs themselves are calibrated to reflect market conditions and users’ experiences and expectations. It examines how the substance’s potency becomes stable, both as a physical substance and as a consistent commodity, and the introduction of harm through the supply chain. It discusses users’ presentation as hyper-modern, risk-reflexive consumers. Increasingly, we are seeing self-efficacy being used as the measure of a substance’s potency, a new development which points towards a novel understanding of the relationship between self and intoxication. Features of the marketplace design plug into this subjectivity, promoting a rational consumer ethic through its feedback features. The chapter ends with some critical thoughts on how the ‘rational market’ design makes some features of the commodity chain transparent while obscuring others.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Intoxicants and Intoxication
EditorsGeoffrey Hunt, Tamar M. J. Antin, Vibeke Asmussen Frank
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780367178703
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks


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