The prevalence of nonmedical opiate abuse initiating heroin use continues to be well established, with an average of 45 percent of heroin users first being addicted to nonmedical opioids. Literature on how the actual process of transitioning affects the user, rather than the associated consequences of the transition, is lacking. The majority of existing literature seeks to further explain why and how individuals continue to use drugs, despite being presented with continued hardships and negative consequences. This study utilized qualitative methods to explore the transition through the user’s perspective and interpreted findings using Life Course Theory, to better understand the personal and societal influences on their transitioning and the individual’s experience of human agency during the transitioning process. This was a phenomenological study using purposive sampling and semi-structured interviews with participants (n = 15) who were English speaking, over the age of 18 and who had a dependence on opioid analgesics prior to transitioning to heroin. Thematic coding was used in data analysis and strategies to increase trustworthiness and transferability of findings were included. Results indicate that as participants’ opioid use progressed, strategic social adaptations occurred, individual agency declined, and upon entering treatment individuals were lonely, disempowered and mistrusting of the medical community/providers. Themes of exploitation and differential racialization associated with the opioid epidemic also emerged. Strategies to engage and treat this specific profile of patients are discussed and implications for future research, prevention efforts and opioid-related social policies are reviewed.
|Commitee:||Berger, Roni, Cooper, Hannah, Zodikoff, Bradley|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Mental health, Social work|
|Keywords:||Addiction, Life course theory, Opioids|
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