All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Heith Copes

Advisory Committee Members

Hayden Griffin

Dereef Jamison

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2016

Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Since the late 1990s there has been an increase in the use of methamphetamine (meth) across the United States. Concerns about the physical, mental, and societal effects of the drug have been fueled by the media and anti-drug campaigns and have contributed to the demonization of meth and its users. People who use meth construct symbolic boundaries in an attempt to navigate the stigma associated with their drug use and in an attempt to maintain a positive self-identity. Symbolic boundaries are the distinctions, or social categories, that individuals make in attempt to categorize certain people and behaviors. One way that people who use meth construct boundaries is by depicting themselves as functional users, while portraying other meth users as dysfunctional. Here, I examine the differences between the symbolic boundaries constructed by both institutionalized and non-institutionalized women meth users to determine if boundaries change as a function of treatment status. My analysis of the accounts of 17 institutionalized female meth users, and the accounts of 12 non-institutionalized female meth users revealed mostly shared boundaries between the two groups. However, the two groups differ in the boundaries they construct regarding the use of drugs other than meth, and their views in reference to the morality of meth use and of drug use in general. These findings indicate the need for treatment facilities to do more in the way of dispelling the harmful stereotypes about the typical meth user.

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