Out the Gate: Towards a Rhizomatic Understanding of Methamphetamine Use in Aotearoa-New Zealand

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As part of an interview-based qualitative study on the life-course of people who formally used methamphetamine in Aotearoa-New Zealand, this paper uses Deleuze and Guattari's rhizomatic perspective to trace the specific effects and particular relations involved in methamphetamine use. The methamphetamine-using trajectory for the 42 former users is a multifaceted and constantly fluctuating process involving multiple entries, exists, pathways, and restarts. By amplifying and enlightening the user, methamphetamine use begins by liberating desire through sending the user “out the gate,” but long-term high-dose use can end up constraining and repressing subjectivity and cyclically producing adverse psychological, emotional, interpersonal, and social effects. As a metamorphic process that produces transformative change, long-term high-dose methamphetamine use is a nonlinear rollercoaster ride that typically leads to a downward spiral whereby life stagnates, shrinks, or regresses. By undermining productive and transformative connections, the life of the long-term high-dose methamphetamine user typically—but not inevitably—involves revolving instead of evolving. Against a linear and deterministic popular media-generated narrative about methamphetamine use, a rhizomatic perspective emphasizes the potential for transformation by focusing upon the situational and interactional processes involved in users who undergo complex and varied temporary changes. From Deleuze and Guattari's perspective, disentangling from long-term high-dose methamphetamine use requires activating new relationships and possibilities for desire by forming meaningful biopsychosocial connections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-526
Number of pages20
JournalContemporary Drug Problems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • Aotearoa-New Zealand
  • Deleuze and Guattari
  • downward spiral
  • life-course
  • methamphetamine use
  • rhizome


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