Challenging heteronormativity in drug policy and practice: exploring the support needs of queer women who experience problematic substance use




Knox, Sherilyn Adele

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Queer-identified women in Canada and elsewhere are underserved as a community with regard to the provision of support for drug use related problems. In order to provide much needed inclusive support services, researchers, policy makers and treatment providers must recognize and act on the interface of oppression with substance use in populations of queer women. The homophobia and heterosexism endemic to our society is an issue that necessitates the exploration, development, and inclusion of responsive policies and services for queer women who seek - or desire to seek - support for problematic substance use. This research study explores the support needs of queer-identified women who experience difficulties as a result of drug use. Through qualitative, interview-based research, my inquiry examines responses to the question: What are the support needs of women who are impacted by the confluence of heteronormativity and problematic drug use? Data are derived from nine, semi-structured in-depth interviews with women in the Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland areas of British Columbia. The methodological framework incorporates a critical feminist approach. A thematic analysis technique was utilized to analyse the interviews, with data categorized into three primary themes of discrimination, resistance, and support. Findings indicate that queer women require distinct support services for problematic substance use issues in an effort to redress systemic heteronormativity.



heterosexism, addiction, lesbian, discrimination, homophobia, substance abuse, drug treatment, feminist methodology, Foucauldian theory, feminist theory, queer theory, addiction services, harm reduction, substance use support services, social justice, qualitative, interview method, Canadian social policy