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Narcotic addiction in post -Soviet Ukraine

Gregory A Adams, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Implicit in most observations about addictive drug use is the assumption that variance in addicts' use and drug related behavior are independent of social forces, that they are caused by the addictive condition. Drug related activities and attitudes include frequency of use, behaviors that increase risk of infection, and attitudes toward use and recovery. This dissertation explores the possibility that social influences account for differences in intravenous drug use and attitudes even after addiction has been established. To explore this possibility, two primary data sets were gathered from over 700 Ukrainian narcotic addicts. The first set was qualitative, made up of interviews with addicts at a national research hospital and provided the information used to design a structured instrument. The second set was made up of quantitative data collected with the structured instrument. Variables were organized into categories that represent corners of social influence , structural areas of social life such as immediate family, family of origin, conventional social institutions, peer networks, and economic circumstances. The study demonstrates that a variety of social factors arising from different corners of influence account for behaviors that previously would have been attributed to the addiction itself. Older narcotic addicts use more frequently than young addicts, and unemployed addicts use more frequently than the employed. Social networks and institutions with which the addicts engage are significantly related to the addicts' use frequencies, risk behaviors, and self-prognoses. Evidence suggests that the frequency of addicts' use is a function of family structure, economic conditions, local narcotic distribution means, and addicts' access to illicit markets. The findings, including the overarching statement that social factors influence addictive drug use and related behavior, have theoretical and practical implications. For sociology they raise questions about the experience of a chronic condition and the use of deviance theory to explain all drug related behavior. They also suggest shifts for intervention practice and policy that can reduce the harm caused by addiction.

Subject Area

Criminology|Social work|Public health

Recommended Citation

Adams, Gregory A, "Narcotic addiction in post -Soviet Ukraine" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3212720.