How Can We Use Anthropology in Order to Understand “Substance Abuse” And/or Addiction?

Question by : How can we use anthropology in order to understand “substance abuse” and/or addiction?
Up until now, rehab programs have not been very successful. In your own words, give me some examples where anthropology and sociology can be applied and used in regards to developing a rehab program maybe more adapted to addicts.
xx machina: True, it was extremely important to anthropologists up until recently. Things have changed. With the emergence of what we call in France “Le devoir d’Ingerence,” post- post- modernist theories and more, the idea of objectivity and subjectivity have definitely transformed. New branches of anthropology are actually born with the desire to change the world, therefore, to judge and speak out (applied anthropology is a good example). You will find more and more applied anthropologists working in health organizations, developing health programs with just that “an anthropological approach.” Many medical, cultural, symbolic, urban anthropologists anthropologists have been writing on a social phenomenon called addiction. It would make sense to apply these findings in the benefit (not necessarily judge as you point out) of addicts.
Thank you Dek and Glo.

Best answer:

Answer by Glo*
Taking examples from Native Americans, they used many intoxicants such as plants and herbs and drugs that are now considered to be psychoactive. However, they have/had a strict set of rules and guidelines for usage. For many years they did not have a addiction/abuse issue. However, now they do and have for sometime. The conditions of use, times, places, rules and guidelines changed. They have developed a program called the “wellbriety movement” you may find it quite interesting. go to http://www.whitebison.org and you can find further information regarding this program. Going with the norms of their cultures they include family and community in the abstinence process. Unlike mainstream society with clients in treatment being kept away from family and friends. Getting direct support from therapists, counselors and fellow addicts only. They are given the tools and sent out into society and expected to use these tools and remain clean in the same environment with a family that really has no knowledge of what their loved one is dealing with. I actually just composed a research paper and posted it on my 360 blog the other day…. You are more than welcome to go there an read it if you would like. You can use your own words to show examples. God bless****

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2 Responses to How Can We Use Anthropology in Order to Understand “Substance Abuse” And/or Addiction?

  • xxmachina says:

    I don’t see anthropology as applying to “substance abuse and/or addiction,” since anthropology attempts to be non-judgmental about behaviors, they would never label drug use this way.
    You just want sociology, which is known for being judgemental, opinionated, and culturally specific.

  • DekH says:

    Medical anthropology is well-suited for for an understanding. You dont have be judgemental in trying to understand addiction. Anthropologists have worked with people who have perpetuated human rights violations and have tried to leave their judgement at the door.

    As a student of culture and health, the medical anthropologist will examine exactly that. What is the role of culture in addiction? Are certain population sectors more prone to addiction? Level of education? What motivates people to consume the things they do? Why are some people able to not do it again, but others become addicted? Native American groups have established healing circles to successfully treat alcohol addiction through employing symbolically-rich ceremonies that have been very successful. Is something like that possible for other ethnic groups?

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