Seminar – Loss, change and adaptation: users’ experiences of the US opioid epidemic

Sarah Mars
(University  of California, San Francisco)

Bio:  Dr Sarah Mars is Qualitative Project Director of the Heroin in Transition study at the University of California San Francisco and Visiting Research Fellow at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  She studied history at Cambridge University and undertook research for her PhD at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine supervised by Professor Virginia Berridge. She has worked in research and policy on drug, alcohol and tobacco use since the 1990s in the UK and US and is the author of the book The Politics of Addiction: Medical Conflict and Drug Dependence in England, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). Since 2012 she has been researching contemporary heroin use in the US and her recent paper, ‘Illicit fentanyls in the opioid street market: desired or imposed?’, co-authored with Daniel Rosenblum and Daniel Ciccarone, was published in Addiction in 2018.

Abstract:  The United States opioid epidemic shows no sign of coming to an end. In 2017 alone, opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths (67.8% of all drug overdose deaths), equivalent to the entire population of English cities Lancaster or Durham.  While there has been extensive epidemiological research, this talk considers the experiences of some of the people who inject drugs sold as heroin, caught in the midst of dependence, unpredictable contamination of the drug supply and an absence of information. It is based on qualitative data from the Heroin in Transition study at the University of California, a project which conducts rapid ethnography in overdose hotspots around the US.

Thursday, 27th June 2019, 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue:  LG6, LSHTM, Keppel Street Building