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Women on Ice

Women on Ice: Methamphetamine Use among Suburban Women

Miriam Boeri
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 254
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  • Book Info
    Women on Ice
    Book Description:

    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 Iceis 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5461-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Figures and Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Chapter 1 Methamphetamine: The Perfect Drug for Suburban Women
    (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 pictures of toothless “faces of meth” displayed on highway billboards by anti-meth campaigns. She looked as if she had just stepped out of the beauty salon with her stylish haircut, manicured nails, and just enough makeup to accent her best features. Maggie was very personable, and we quickly developed affinity...

  7. Chapter 2 Ethnographic Research: Exploring Methamphetamine Use in the Suburbs
    (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 areas to hang our fliers. Once in town, we talked to coffee shop and bar servers to get a feel for the clientele, who appeared to be primarily college-age students and health-conscious folks who appreciated the town’s crunchy granola ambience. It was hot and...

  8. Chapter 3 The Gendered Drug Career: Initiation and Progression in Methamphetamine Use
    (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 the young suburban users I interviewed, Isabella started using methamphetamine with friends. She was from a wealthy family, and both of her parents were professionals. Isabella spent her high school years in...

  9. Chapter 4 Gendered Lives: Combining Work and Family with Drug-Using Roles
    (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 and won. Mia sighed when she told me this, adding that she wished she could have been raised with her paternal grandparents, who had fought for custody and lost. Mia moved to a poor suburban neighborhood with her mother, a...

  10. Chapter 5 Gendered Risks: Health and Infectious Diseases
    (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 me to know where she lived. A former methamphetamine user, she had started using opioid pills and had been on methadone for the last few months but could no longer afford the daily...

  11. Chapter 6 Gendered Risks: Violence and Crime
    (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 her. When her grandmother died, she was sent to live with her mother and stepfather. Her stepfather proceeded to rape her regularly when she was only eleven:

    Did you tell anyone?

    Well, he used to threaten me because, right before this happened my grandmother died. The one...

  12. Chapter 7 The Revolving Door: Treatment, Recovery, and Relapse
    (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 blazer with her hair stylishly cut. She might have been dressed to go to church or work. I learned she had performed semiprofessional work all her life, often while using methamphetamine. The long sleeves she wore to the interview covered track marks...

  13. Chapter 8 Policy Implications
    (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 an office position. “I worked there until I got married when I was twenty-one,” she said, “And then when I was twenty-two, the company relocated to [Big City], so I quit. I didn’t work for a few years after...

  14. Appendix A Methodological Process
    (pp. 187-200)
  15. Appendix B The Drug Career Typology
    (pp. 201-208)
  16. References
    (pp. 209-220)
  17. Index
    (pp. 221-232)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-236)