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Women and Addiction: Process, Treatment, and Outcome (From Collection and Interpretation of Data From Hidden Populations, P 120-127, 1990, Elizabeth Y Lambert, ed. -- See NCJ-128609)

NCJ Number
M Rosenbaum; S Murphy
Date Published
8 pages
One hundred in-depth interviews were conducted with unincarcerated women heroin addicts who were not in treatment programs; there were also 10 interviews with women addicts in treatment programs and 10 with women inmates as well as 100 follow-up interviews with women in methadone treatment programs. The objective of the ethnography was to explore the careers of women heroin addicts from the theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism and from the philosophy of phenomenology; respondents were obtained through the snowball, or chain referral, method.
Women enter the heroin world for a variety of reasons, usually involving the apparent expansion of life options offered. After a short time, however, a woman's heroin career changes into a funneling of, or reduction in, life options as she is forced to seek illegal work and often suffers from physical effects of the drug more than men. Women who choose to enter treatment programs emphasizing methadone maintenance must first surrender to the control established by the treatment program routine. This surrender is followed by a period of stabilization in which an enduring relationship to methadone is created followed by a phase of disillusionment. The authors found that outcomes of women's addiction and treatment are linked to social class, and that the prognosis for lower class women and their children is often grim. The epidemic of AIDS among intravenous drug users has complicated the situation as women and children represent high risk populations for the HIV virus. 12 references