Cultural values help create what we define as reality:
Drugs are neither good nor bad. Drugs are neither magical nor benign. Some substances have pharmacological properties, we are biological entities, and there are interesting interactions. BUT, it is essential to understand the social context which surrounds drug use in order to make sense of the outcome(s) associated with the use of any substance.
What constitutes a drug, the effect(s) of a drug and the impact of drug use===> The Substance(s) + The Person + The Immediate Socio-Environmental Context + The Wider Socio-Cultural Context: CONTINGENCIES
Stratification and inequality
- Ignoring Women
- "In sum, our knowledge of women and drugs is limited to that which is government-funded and published in scholarly journals and/or the popular media. This information does not represent the experience of the majority of women drug users. It does not even represent the majority of women who use illegal drugs, because most use drugs in controlled ways and without serious consequence. We know very little about how they manage and control their use because prohibitionist rhetoric dismisses such use as impossible, therefore research funding is difficult if not impossible to obtain.
Instead, most conventional research focuses on a relatively small group of women whose drug use becomes visible, therefore problematic. They use illegal means to earn enough money to buy (expensive) drugs. As a result of their illegal activities they come into contact with the criminal justice system. They are often poor, under skilled, undereducated, and supported by public assistance. They have difficulty taking care of their children and as part of the welfare system, come to the attention of social service agencies designed to protect children. Some have no real home and as a result much of their existence takes place "on the street." Most important, they incite fear because they deviate from sexual norms and in general violate traditional gender role expectations with regard to pregnancy and parenting." (Rosenbaum 1997--below)
Gender roles and the drug experience
- Motives for use: Male versus Female
- Power: The Social Construction of Drug Use
- Medical Model: Boys are different from girls
- Marsha Rosenbaum: Women's experiences are different from men's. (See, "Women: Research and Policy" local copy) Rosenbaum, Marsha. "Women: Research and Policy" Chapter 63, Section IX Special Populations, in Joyce H. Lowinson, Pedro Ruiz, Robert B. Millman & John G. Langrod (eds.), Substance Abuse, a Comprehensive Textbook, 3rd. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1997, pp. 654-665.)
- Caregivers: addiction as special problem
- Money and prostitution
- Narrow life options
"The relevance of gender and sex role is especially crucial,..., in the social construction of drug use, that is, not so much what drugs are and do, but how users are seen by the public, how drug use is conceptualized as a social problem, how drugs and drug users are presented in the media, how politicians talk about drugs and legislate laws to control it, .... and so on." (Goode, p. 84)
Stigma and Deviance
- Female users judged more harshly
Prostitution, Sex, Crack and AIDS
- Females more likely to sell their bodies
- Crack and the "new brothel"
- Women who sell sex for crack: double stigma ("base whores")
- Sexual behavior puts women at increased risk of HIV
- Less likely to seek treatment
- Physicians less likely to put females on medication
- "Crack Baby Syndrome?" (1) (2) (3) myth created through"bad" science, and media sensationalism. See also: "Use of term "crack baby" and this report on long-term effects.
- Hysteria and confusion: Drug Czar William Bennett makes wild claim of 375,000 crack babies being born in late 1980s (10% of all births--think about what that would really mean)!
- Laws directed specifically at females.
- Media never reports mistakes and factual omissions (brief mention in St. Louis Post-Dispatch in early 1990s)
- Designed for men
- Programs for females lacking
- Child care?
Perhaps the biggest questions are: What is it that distinguishes the Controlled user from the Problem user? And, How Do We Define Problematic Use?
But first, what is a Drug?
Owner: Robert O. Keel firstname.lastname@example.org
References and Credits for this Page of Notes
Last Updated: Thursday, August 23, 2012 2:10 PM