Between Awareness and Illegality: Youth Cultures of Substance Use in Saint Petersburg

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Natalia Chernyshyova
Elizaveta Balatsyuk


This article discusses the practice of using psychoactive substances (PAS) by young people as a process regulated by the norms of participants in the culture of consumption. We seek to make a contribution to the theoretical debate about normalization, since the creation of cultures of PSA use involves a number of normalizing techniques: safety requirements, separation from other cultures of drug use, the use of a normalizing discourse in narratives about PSA. Our study is based on 20 in-depth interviews with young people aged 18–30 who have experience using several types of psychoactive substances on a regular basis. We distinguish three main elements in the culture of substance consumption that demonstrate the diversity of drug use practices and values: the level of desired control over consumption, the approach to the choice of space where drug consumption happens, and attitudes toward physicality. The participants of the study perceive the culture of PAS consumption with which they identify as one of the social spheres of life where their life goals can be realized.

Article in Russian


Normalization, Recreational Drug Use, Consumer Culture, Consumer Practices, Psychoactive Substances, Young People

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