- Somadril and edgework in South Sulawesi
- International Journal of Drug Policy
- Volume | Issue number
- 25 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
The use of psychoactive prescription drugs (PPDs) by young people is part of a broader worldwide trend towards the consumption of pharmaceuticals to improve social, emotional, and sexual performance. Few studies have examined how young people use PPDs in developing countries, where off-label use is likely to be greater due to weaker market controls. This study presents our findings on PPD use among sex workers in Makassar, Indonesia. We focus on one potent painkiller, Somadril, which is freely available over the counter in pharmacies. The sex workers we studied used most of their earnings to purchase Somadril pills, which they used to feel more confident and to make their work more palatable. This paper also traces the history of the active component in Somadril, carisoprodol. This was developed in the United States, where it was soon used recreationally. We found that knowledge of its effects seeped from health professionals into youth networks, where it was spread by word of mouth. The flow of information on carisoprodol's harmful effects, however, was less evident.
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