The practice and embodiment of "goofballs": A qualitative study exploring the co-injection of methamphetamines and opioids

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The International journal on drug policy


BACKGROUND: Polysubstance use is common among people who use drugs, including the co-use of stimulants and opioids. Research suggests the practice of simultaneous co-injection of methamphetamines and opioids, often referred to as "goofballs", is increasing. As a relatively unique drug use practice, little qualitative research currently exists on goofball injecting. This study explores the practice and embodied experiences of goofball injecting. METHODS: This article draws on in-depth interviews conducted across two qualitative studies undertaken in Vancouver, Canada's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood examining changing dynamics in relation to stimulant use and experiences with an overdose prevention site-based safer supply intervention, respectively. Interviews containing discussions of goofball use (n=29) were extracted from each study and merged into a single qualitative dataset. Data were analysed thematically and focused on the practices and embodied experiences of goofball injection. RESULTS: Our analysis uncovered how goofball injection represented a complex drug use practice driven by the desire to achieve particular embodied experiences not attainable by using either drug individually. We identified three distinct practices of goofball use: 1) to alter or enhance the effects of opioids; 2) to alter or enhance the effects of methamphetamines; and 3) to balance out the effects of both drugs. CONCLUSION: Our study fills an important gap in the polysubstance use literature specifically exploring the co-injection of methamphetamines and opioids. Our findings highlight the need to implement and expand interventions and services attentive to polysubstance use and the role of pleasure in drug taking practices, including expanding non-medicalized opioid and stimulant safer supply initiatives across North America.

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