Using Drugs, Selling Drugs, and Getting
Addicted
- Intro to TheoriesSOC 4108 Drugs & Society
Instructor: Sarah Whetstone
February 17, 2014
Agenda
• 6:20 – 6:50: Theories Lecture
• 6:50 – 7:15: Small group discussion/worksheet on
Bourgois’ ethnography – will be collected
• 7:15 – 7:30: Break
• 7:30 – 8:50: Planet Rock film – Reflection due next
week
Typology of Theories of Drug Use & Addiction
THEORY
INITIAL DRUG USE or
INVOLVEMENT
Nature
Weil
Biological
DRUG ADDICTION
Biogenetic
Neurological/ “brain plasticity”
Psychological
Psychoanalytic
Personality
Psychoanalytic
Personality
Behavioral
Sociological
Differential Association
Differential Reinforcement
Becker’s Learning Theory
Social Control Theory
Strain Theory
Conflict Theory
Dislocation Theory
Differential Reinforcement
Becker’s Learning Theory
Integrated Theory
Strain Theory
Cultural Deviance Theory
Labeling Theory
Conflict Theory
Dislocation Theory
Adapted from Faupel, Sociology of American Drug Use
Nature Theories
• Desire to alter consciousness with drugs is an innate
human drive (Andrew Weil).
• The ritual use of intoxicants is a cultural universal.
• Drugs have been used throughout human history for
celebration, ritual, coping, and pain relief.
• Universality calls for value-neutrality.
Biological Theories
• Early theories emphasized weakness of individual
• “Allergen Theory”
• Biological predisposition: Focuses on the role of
genetic susceptibility and family history in developing
addiction.
• Brain Plasticity: After initial drug use, chemicals
fundamentally alter the functioning of neuron
pathways in the brain, leading to heightened cravings,
compulsive use, dependency, and physical withdrawal
effects.
Psychological Theories
• Psychoanalytic – Drugs are used to alleviate frustrations
over the inability to adjust to normal routines of adult life
• Personality – Drugs are used by individuals with “addictive
personalities.”
• Behavioral – Operant conditioning - Behavior is reinforced
when rewarded. Addiction results when drug becomes
positive reinforcement (inducing pleasure) or a negative
reinforcement (alleviating unpleasant withdrawal)
Social Learning Theories
• Alfred Lindesmith: Basis of sociology of addiction. Addiction results only
when there is a cognitive connection that drugs alleviate withdrawal
• Drug users become drug users through socialization-- learning through
interaction with others. 3 Variants:
• Becker’s Learning Theory: Individuals learn to become drug users through
watching others administer the drug properly, and by learning to associate
the effects with pleasure.
• Differential Association – Edwin Sutherland – We learn behavior from people
who have influence in our lives.
• Differential Reinforcement – Ron Akers – Our behavior is reinforced through
the rewards we get from our primary social group of interaction. Law-abiding
groups are likely to discourage illicit drug use.
SOCIAL CONTROL THEORY
• People naturally want to “act deviant” or pursue
their desires– Social control theory explains why they
don’t.
• Hirschi – Behavior defined as problematic can be
avoided through the attachments or bonds that
people have to conventional society
• Attachment, Commitment, Involvement, Belief
SOCIAL STRAIN THEORY
• Attempts to explain higher drug use rates among
different segments of the population
• Robert Merton’s “anomie theory”
• Approved social goals/ends (getting a college degree) do
not always match available means (lack of educational
funding)
• Result = Feeling of normlessness and disillusionment, or
“strain,” that can lead one to reject conventional standards
CULTURAL DEVIANCE THEORY
• Criminalization of drug use results in the creation of
distinct “drug subcultures”
• Charles Winick’s Integrated Structural Theory (combines
cultural deviance theory and strain theory):
• Access to drugs increases, more embedded in subculture of
use
• Disengagement from normative attitudes on drugs– create
new beliefs and values
• “Role strain” and “role deprivation”
Labeling Theory
• Focus on social reaction to drug use
• Drug “problems” are constructed – Example:
construction of binge drinking
• Why are some behaviors defined as deviant?
• Why are only some of the people who engage in a
certain behavior defined as deviant?
• What are the personal and social consequences of
being labeled a “deviant?”
CONFLICT THEORIES
• Social inequalities-- racism, poverty, gender violence, &
other forms of discrimination-- all shape involvement
with drugs.
• Why is drug use higher among people living in
concentrated poverty?
• Distribution of social problems creates observed differences in
drug use.
• Lack of economic opportunity
• Living conditions
• More psychic desire to escape pain-- Hopelessness
• Addiction is a response to hardship. Drug policy must
address the economic and political sources of inequality
to be truly effective.
ALEXANDER’S DISLOCATION
THEORY OF ADDICTION
• Why are so many people addicted to destructive
habits in the globalizing world?
• Why does addiction extend beyond
drugs/alcohol to include so many other
behaviors?
• Why hasn't science been able to solve
addiction?
Growth of Free Market Capitalism
Changes How We Experience Social Ties
FAMILY
LEISURE
WORK
1. Globalization of
Capitalist Free Market
System
4. Proliferation of
Addiction3
2. Decline of PsychoSocial Integration
3. Poverty of the Spirit
Working in the Drug Trade
• Philippe Bourgois- Anthropologist
and ethnographer
• Studies men working in the innercity crack trade in NYC’s Spanish
Harlem for four years
• Working in the drug trade was an
important source of “dignity” and
“respect” unavailable in
mainstream labor market
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SOC 4108 2.16.14 Theories of Use