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Women on Ice

Methamphetamine Use Among Suburban Women

Miriam Boeri

Publication Year: 2013

Methamphetamine (ice, speed, crystal, shard) has been called epidemic in the United States. Yet few communities were ready for increased use of methamphetamine by suburban women. Women on Ice is the first book to study exclusively the lives of women who use the drug and its effects on their families.

In-depth interviews with women in the suburban counties of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. chronicle the details of their initiation into methamphetamine, the turning points into problematic drug use, and for a few, their escape from lives veering out of control. Their life course and drug careers are analyzed in relation to the intersecting influences of social roles, relationships, social/political structures, and political trends. Examining the effects of punitive drug policy, inadequate social services, and looming public health risks, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, the book gives voice to women silenced by shame.

Boeri introduces new and developing concepts in the field of addiction studies and proposes policy changes to more broadly implement initiatives that address the problems these women face. She asserts that if we are concerned that the war on drugs is a war on drug users, this book will alert us that it is also a war on suburban families.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Critical Issues in Crime and Society

Title Series Information

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. ix

Figures and Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

Based on my current education, occupation, and residential zip code, I appear to be far removed socially and culturally from the women I interviewed, analyzed, and wrote about in this book. Yet, as I heard their stories, I often thought of my own childhood, my siblings, and my not too distant past living in the...

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pp. xv-xvi

Some who read this book might change their views on drug users and the decisions they make regarding drug policy. For the women I interviewed, any positive results stemming from this book based on their lives will be too late to have much influence on them. Although the women received a small recompense for their...

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Chapter 1. Metamphetamine: The Perfect Drug for Suburban Women

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pp. 1-24

Maggie looked like the typical housewife next door in a suburban community. No one but an experienced user might guess she had injected methamphetamine almost every day during the last six months. She looked younger than her forty-seven years, and her easy smile revealed strong white teeth, inconsistent with the...

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Chapter 2. Ethnographic Research: Exploring Metamphetamine Use in the Suburbs

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pp. 25-41

My research assistant and I had driven over fifty miles to a small college town southwest of the university offices where we had met earlier that morning. A recent contact had informed me that this town was full of meth users. Along the way we stopped at shopping strips and gas stations that looked like promising...

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Chapter 3. The Gendered Drug Career: Initiation and Progression in Methamphetamine Use

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pp. 42-65

I met Isabella at a conference I attended near the city and interviewed her in a hotel room. She had heard I was presenting a paper on methamphetamine users and self-identified as a former user. She was only twenty-seven years old at the time of the interview, and her use occurred when she was younger. Isabella was best defined by the suburban youth culture category. Like many of...

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Chapter 4. Gendered Lives: Combining Work and Family with Drug-Using Roles

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pp. 66-83

Mia was a fifty-year-old woman who remained in a relapsing addict/junkie (RAJ) phase throughout the three interviews we conducted. Although she was decidedly one of the most despondent of the suburban poor when I met her, she had been raised in a middle-class neighborhood until her parents divorced. Her father wanted to keep her, but her mother fought for custody...

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Chapter 5. Gendered Risks: Health and Infectious Diseases

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pp. 84-110

I was waiting for Dot at the library. She was about an hour late for our appointment, but I was aware of her situation. She did not have gas money for her car and had to call someone to bring her a few dollars just to get here. I had offered to pick her up, but she said she would meet me. Perhaps she did not want...

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Chapter 6. Gendered Risks: Violence and Crime

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pp. 111-133

Sky is a thirty-eight-year-old white woman who was raised in the suburban enclaves of poverty. She was born in one of the larger suburban towns surrounding the city and lived in this same area at the time of the interview. Both her mother and her father were methamphetamine addicts, and her grandmother raised...

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Chapter 7. The Revolving Door: Treatment, Recovery, and Relapse

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pp. 134-158

Referred to our study by a sponsor in twelve-step, Bev was in former-user status when I first met her. At age forty she was living with her mother, who had helped to raise her child. Bev had more mainstream social capital than many of the women I interviewed. She came to the interview dressed in a crisp white...

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Chapter 8. Policy Implications

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pp. 159-186

Kat was one of the more resourceful women I interviewed, but she was also one of the most disadvantaged in terms of having no material possessions and little social capital. She had not always been in this situation. A hard worker, Kat took a service job right out of high school and held it for a short time until she found...

Appendix A. Methodological Process

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pp. 187-200

Appendix B. The Drug Career Typology

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pp. 201-208


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pp. 209-220


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pp. 221-232

About the Author

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pp. 233

Available titles in the Critical Issuesin Crime and Society series

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pp. 235

E-ISBN-13: 9780813554617
E-ISBN-10: 0813554616
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813554594
Print-ISBN-10: 0813554608

Page Count: 254
Illustrations: 4 figures
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Critical Issues in Crime and Society