Transferable Skills and the Drug Dependent: A Journey Through the City of Glasgow

By Charlie Hackett.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Voices narrate their views on skills, transferable skills, marginalisation and poverty in relation to society, opportunity and drug addiction. Narcotic addicts need to educate themselves on where to source and buy drugs and how to go about raising enough money to buy substances such as heroin. Drug dependents need to be knowledgeable, determined, and resourceful to sustain their addiction. They need large amounts of money to feed their habit and will generally get this through illegal and anti-social activities. They lead dangerous lives on the margins of society. This arts practice-led research paper investigates questions around dependency and the possibility of addicts learning skills from being addicted. Using qualitative research data gathered through socially engaged artist’s methods, the paper considers whether the skills in evidence amongst drug addicts (such as injecting skills, drug dealing, money-making skills and negotiating skills) have the potential to be transferable and used in ways that would benefit both the dependent and society. The paper explores the notion that drug workers and society should consider the potential of dependents’ transferable skills in aiding the health and wellbeing of addicts. Paulo Friere’s theories around the ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ through ‘problem solving education’ and ‘dialogical’ discussion are applied to the skills created as a result of being addicted. The methods, process, and discourse used by Suzanne Lacy in her collaborative public art works resonate with the research in considering the arts as a beneficial way of creating dialogue between dependents and society. The artist as social researcher follows the journey of the opiate dependent through deprived areas of Glasgow, interviewing dependents, drug workers and social workers, while reflecting on the relationship of the environment and poverty to drug dependents and their skills.

Keywords: Addiction, Transferable Skills, Opiate Dependency, Experiential Learning, Socially Engaged Arts Practice, Qualitative Research, Practice-led Research, Ethnography, Social Deprivation, Social Exclusion, Dependents Voices, Recovery, Paulo Friere, Suzanne Lacy

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.062MB).

Charlie Hackett

Lecturer, IDEAS, Grays School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

is a lecturer at Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. He works as a social-research artist collaborating with specialists’ out-with the arts arena. The work is participatory arts-based research with a focus on public health; the work encompasses gender, identity, culture, addiction, and alcohol. The research tries to explain personal feelings and ideas through using mixed media arts methodology and visual methods. The research takes place alongside people within their personal space in order to try to understand and capture their thoughts and feelings and how the environment has impact on their being. Charlie has recently completed research with Glasgow Centre for Population Health that looks at alcohol and young people and their transition to adulthood, authoring a book ‘Alcohol: through our eyes’