Heroin Abuse and Collective Identity…

Furst, R. Terry, and Rebecca Balletto (2012). Heroin Abuse and Collective Identity: Correlates and Consequences of Geographical Place. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 10(5), 684-695.

Ethnography and qualitative research were utilized to examine how the effects of geographic place can be related to heroin abuse and collective identity in small metropolitan areas (SMAs), in the mid-Hudson region of New York State, US.  The socio-geographic consequences of this interrelationship are explored. In-depth, tape-recorded interviews were conducted with 237 recent admissions (in the last 3 months) to drug treatment at 28 different treatment facilities located in the seven counties of the mid-Hudson region. The effects of geographic place and collective identity emerged in interviews in the form of narratives relating to heroin experimentation, subsequent dependence, and the lure of New York City. Heroin experimentation and the lifestyle of New York City is collectively constructed by many respondents as “cool.” They are both oriented  toward city life and in conflict with what they believe to be a lack of community and caring among city dwellers and  the dehumanizing effects of the city.  The idea that heroin use is cool, serves as tacit permission to experiment with heroin.