Culture of Addiction

13_Culture of Addiction
The Psychology and Culture of Addiction
Understanding the addict is not merely about understanding that person’s
pattern of substance use, or about having a conceptual framework with
which to explain their addiction. It is also about understanding the
addict’s way of thinking about the world and themselves.
Human beings feel a need to belong. It has long been observed by many
therapists, health professionals, and others who work in the field, that
substance dependents tend to create their own sub-cultures:
‘The culture of addiction, like any other culture, is a context for human
needs to be met….people participate in this culture and its rituals (drug
use) to address the needs all humans share’ (White, 1996).
Cultural Enmeshment
These cultures are directed towards enabling and perpetuating ‘the life.’
With alcohol, for example, William L White notes that when the drinking
patterns of alcoholics regularly violate the social norms established to
control alcohol consumption, alcoholics will migrate towards others whose
patterns of alcohol consumption mirror their own.
Cultural belonging may be manifested in:
art and literature
13_Culture of Addiction
cognitions, behaviours, and language
In other words, the symptoms of the individual pathology of addiction are
organized into group norms that govern member interactions. These
serve to support the minimization, projection, intellectualization,
rationalization, and grandiosity that collectively permit such individuals to
deny their addiction (and associated problems).