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Examining withdrawal, and its role in people who use illicit opioids (PWUIO)’s willingness to engage in risk, may aid in the development of alternative theories of risk involvement and create discursive spaces for de-medicalizing and de-othering people who use illegal drugs.
Participants described a strong relationship between withdrawal and their willingness to engage in risk-involved behavior that was exacerbated by the proliferation of fentanyl. Yet, their descriptions did not align with narratives of risk as a product of bad decisions made by individuals. Rather, data demonstrated the substantial role of social and structural context, particularly drug policies like prohibition and criminalization, in the kinds of risks that PWUIO faced and their ability to respond to them.
Semi-structured interviews (n=32)