That Look That Makes You Not Really Want to be There: How Neoliberalism and the War on Drugs Compromise Nursing Care of People Who Use Substances


  • Kathy Hardill none



Critical social theory, Freire, Neoliberalism, War on Drugs, Nursing Care



Research conducted in 2016 explored the health care experiences of people who use illicit opioids in small Ontario urban and rural communities. Perspectives of participants who used opioids and of nurse participants were interpreted using Friere’s critical social theory framework to explore sociopolitical, economic and ideological influences. Findings describe pervasive experiences of stigma, discrimination and inappropriate care. Exploration of why such negative experiences with nursing care might be so pervasive led to a consideration of the context of health care systems and in particular of the influences of neoliberalism and the impact of the global War on Drugs. Mitigation strategies to support contextualized nursing practice are outlined. Nurses are called upon to actively resist the pressures of these political forces by advocating for policy change including decriminalization.


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Author Biography

Kathy Hardill, none

Kathy Hardill, RN(EC), MScN, is a white settler of Irish and English ancestry living in the traditional territory of the Miichi Saagig Anishnaabe and Haudenosonee peoples - territory covered by the 1923 Williams Treaties. She is the Clinical Director/Lead Nurse Practitioner at the Peterborough 360 Degree Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong, Ontario. Her areas of expertise are health and homelessness, primary care of individuals with structural health vulnerabilities and in harm reduction and primary care. Her master's research explored the experience of health care for people who use illicit opioids in small cities and rural communities. She knows that health is political and has worked both upstream and downstream for more than thirty years. She is a founding member of Ontario's Street Nurses' Network and Health Providers Against Poverty - Ontario and its affiliate group, Healthcare Providers Against Poverty - Peterborough.


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How to Cite

Hardill, K. (2019). That Look That Makes You Not Really Want to be There: How Neoliberalism and the War on Drugs Compromise Nursing Care of People Who Use Substances. Witness: The Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse, 1(1), 13–27.