Combining Alcohol with Benzodiazepines or Psychostimulants. Metaphoric Meanings and the Concept of Control in the Online Talk of Polydrug Use

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

  • Jukka Törrönen
  • Pekka Hakkarainen
  • Petteri Koivula
  • Christoffer Tigerstedt


The co-administration of different substances is a widespread practice in the context of hard drug use. Among others, alcohol combined with certain substances produces potentially dangerous interactions. This article explores how people who combine alcohol with benzodiazepines or psychostimulants perceive these practices and how they share their perceptions in Finnish and Swedish online discussions. This is carried out by analyzing discussants’ use of metaphoric expressions. We found that the metaphors given to the use of these substance combinations reflect their pharmacological characteristics. Through that, the metaphors and meanings were different depending on the substance alcohol was combined with. Moreover, we found that, in the realities the metaphors create, the control of use was differently conceptualized. The different aspects of control could be divided into three categories that, however, were not related to any specific substances but overarched all metaphors: 1) controlling pharmacological risks, 2) controlling social appearance and 3) ignoring control. As our findings bring out, often the actual health dangers and risks of the studied substance combinations were bypassed, and the control was rather understood either as a form of socially appropriate behavior or wholly ignored.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)473-481
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2019
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed