Background Examining how pharmaceuticals are used to induce pleasure presents a unique opportunity for analyzing not only how pleasure is assembled and experienced through distinct consumption practices but also how mundane medicines can become euphorigenic substances. Methods Drawing on qualitative research on the non-medical use of prescription drugs by young adults in the United States, this paper utilizes Actor–Network Theory (ANT) to examine how prescription medicines come to produce pleasure. Results Our research found an indeterminacy of experience as individuals were initiated into prescription drug pleasures. We also found that euphorigenic effects coalesce and are foregrounded through subsequent use, and that pleasure and other forms of gratification are made durable through repeated and deliberate pharmaceutical consumption. Conclusion Understanding how individuals are socialized into pharmaceutical pleasure, and how assemblages act to constitute the euphorigenic potential of pharmaceutical misuse, may allow for more context-appropriate intervention efforts. We suggest that the euphorigenic properties ascribed to prescription drugs are not inherent in their pharmaceutical formulations, but instead emerge through interactions within networks of heterogeneous actants.
- Actor–Network Theory
- Non-medical prescription drug use