Episode 26: Artificial Energy

On last month’s show, we looked at the history of the Brain Disease Model of Addiction. That’s the idea that drug users have a chronic, relapsing brain disease. The reward system in our brain is wired wrong and that’s why we want to get high.

On today’s show: a different theory. Academics call it the “social adaptation” model of addiction. This is the idea that people take drugs because they are useful. There’s something about the world that makes drug use more appealing, rational, or necessary.  

This is true for lots of drugs. But on episode 26 of Crackdown, we look specifically at crystal meth. 

Further Reading

Geoff Bardwell, Taylor Fleming, Alexandra B Collins, Jade Boyd, and Ryan McNeil. 2018. Addressing Intersecting Housing and Overdose Crises in Vancouver, Canada: Opportunities and Challenges from a Tenant-Led Overdose Response Intervention in Single Room Occupancy Hotels. Journal of Urban Health.

Jade Boyd, Lindsey Richardson, Solanna Anderson, Thomas Kerr, Will Small, Ryan McNeil. 2018. Transitions in income generation among marginalized people who use drugs: A qualitative study on recycling and vulnerability to violence. Int J Drug Policy.

William Damon, Ryan McNeil, M-J Milloy, Ekaterina Nosova, Thomas Kerr, and Kanna Hayashi. 2018. Residential Eviction Predicts Initiation of or Relapse into Crystal Methamphetamine use Among People who Inject Drugs: A Prospective Cohort Study. Journal of Public Health

Matthew Desmond. 2012. Evictions and the Reproduction of Urban Poverty. The American Journal of Sociology.

Danya Fast, Thomas Kerr, Evan Wood, and Will Small. 2014. The multiple truths about crystal meth among young people entrenched in an urban drug scene: a longitudinal ethnographic investigation. Soc Sci Med.

Taylor Fleming, Will Damon, Alexandra B Collins, Sandra Czechaczek, Jade Boyd, and Ryan McNeil. 2019. Housing in crisis: A Qualitative Study of the Socio-Legal Contexts of Residential Evictions in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. International Journal of Drug Policy.

Mary Clare Kennedy, Ryan McNeil, M-J Milloy, Huiru Dong, Thomas Kerr, and Kanna Hayashi. Residential Eviction and Exposure to Violence Among People Who Inject Drugs in Vancouver, Canada. The International Journal of Drug Policy.

Ryan McNeil, Taylor Fleming, Alexandra B Collins, Sandra Czechaczek, Samara Mayer, and Jade Boyd. 2021. Navigating Post-Eviction Drug Use Amidst a Changing Drug Supply: A Spatially-Oriented Qualitative Study of Overlapping Housing and Overdose Crises in Vancouver, Canada. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

J Wittmer, and Parizeau K. 2018. Informal Recyclers’ Health Inequities in Vancouver, BC. New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy.

On “Indian Residential Schools”

Garth: This month Crackdown’s Editorial Board is thinking of all the Indigenous children who were snatched up by the RCMP and forced to live in residential schools. These were really prison camps run by religious fundamentalists, contracted by the Canadaian state. Many of these children never came home. Many were buried in unmarked graves, over a thousand of which have been found recently on the sites of former residential schools. There will be more.  

I think about my niece and nephews. Their Mooshum was abducted to a residential school in Manitoba. He was a red road, east van legend. Residential school trauma transmits down the generations like electricity. This is no “dark chapter of Canadian history,” like politicians say. It’s the whole fucking book, right up to the present page. And there’s a direct line from residential schools to the over-representation of Indigenous people in coroners’ overdose death stats.

There’s a 24 hour residential school crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.


Crackdown is made on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations. 

Thanks this month to JJ Rigsby at VANDU and Trey Helten for walking us through this topic. Thanks as well to Sean Dope.

Additional thanks to Brianne de Man of the Binner’s Project, as well as Richard Henry and Ken Lyotier of United We Can.

Our editorial board is: Samona Marsh, Shelda Kastor, Greg Fess, Jeff Louden, Dean Wilson, Laura Shaver, Reija Jean. Rest in Peace Dave Murray and Chereece Keewatin.

This episode was conceptualized, written, and produced by Sam Fenn, 

Alex de Boer, Danya Fast, Ryan McNeil, and Garth Mullins. Sound design by Alexander Kim. 

Original score was written and performed by Garth Mullins, James Ash, Sam Fenn, and Kai Paulson. 

Stay safe. Keep six.