Women on Ice: Methamphetamine Use among Suburban Women

By Miriam Boeri | Go to book overview

APPENDIX B
THE DRUG CAREER TYPOLOGY

The career model has been used by to explain deviant careers as well as mainstream careers (Becker 1953 and 1963; Biernacki 1986; Faupel 1991; Laub and Sampson 2003; Rosenbaum 1981; Waldorf 1973). Building on the tradition of drug use as a career, I used the concepts of social roles, social control, and self-control to develop a typology of career phases. The nine phases of the typology help identify and explain transitions and turning points in a drug-user career (Boeri 2004). Before presenting the typology here, I provide a brief overview of social role, social control, and self-control theories.


SOCIAL ROLE THEORY

Social roles are the behaviors, responsibilities, activities, and privileges belonging to a particular social status. Roles are used to organize personal activities, provide guidelines for behavior, and act as a point of reference. The self has been conceptualized as multiple role identities, and identity as internalized role designation (Stryker and Serpe 1994). Therefore, it can be assumed that role loss and role transition provide new guidelines for behaviors and help form a new identity. A successful acquisition of a new role results in a new role identity through a mutual transformation of both self and role.

In chapter 3 I discussed the importance of identifying turning points and transitions in the drug trajectory (Boeri et al. 2011). The concepts of role acquisition and role loss provide an additional tool for understanding turning points in drug use. We know that problematic use of drugs is associated with a loss of social roles (Agar 1973; Faupel 1991; Stephens 1991). As adults lose mainstream roles (for example, work and parenting roles), they acquire new ones or return to previously held roles. This process is known as role transition. Roles can be both conventional and unconventional. Drug users who lose their mainstream conventional roles have less motivation to abstain from activities that place them at risk. The drug user who is alienated from mainstream society can regain social role stability by becoming involved in an unconventional drug-using role, which may also motivates the user to maintain more control over his or her drug use. For example, by becoming dealers

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