Voluntary risk-taking and heavy-end crack cocaine use: An edgework perspective

Ruth McGovern, William McGovern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Heavy-end drug use is a widely studied and discussed topic, however much of the research within the field considers the phenomenon of use from perspectives of individual or social pathology, devoid of any pleasure or meaning-making potential for the user. This paper seeks to offer an alternative perspective to understanding heavy-end drug use, with specific reference to crack cocaine, to that of the ‘powerless addict’ typically present in the hegemonic discourse. By applying Stephen Lyng's concept of edgework to this high-risk activity, this article will seek to demonstrate the purposeful nature of crack cocaine user for the user. The paper argues that users involve themselves in risk-taking behaviours in order to create meaning in an otherwise meaningless life. Within this context, meaning-making is achieved by honing skills and developing specialist knowledge which enables them to negotiate the ‘edge’ inherent in heavy-end crack cocaine use and control the uncontrollable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-500
JournalHealth, Risk & Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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