Families and drug use in Greece.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The study at hand explores Greek problematic drug users’ perceptions of the progression of their drug using careers and family responses towards drug affected children in Greece. The methodology of the study entailed the use of semi-structured in depth-interviews. In total, 40 interviews with problematic drug users (PDUs) were conducted as well as 8 interviews with parents of PDUs. Participating drug users were asked to reflect on all stages of their problematic drug using careers, from initial contact with drugs to entering treatment facilities where they were contacted. Furthermore, they were asked to reflect on the role their families played in influencing the progression of those careers and on the impact they felt their drug use had on their families. Parents’ accounts were also collected to provide a fuller picture of the issues in question.
The results of the study put forth the vital role of self perception, whether this derives from sense of self through practice or participation in social groups, in relation to drug use onset and escalation. It is suggested that drug use may resemble a learning curve where drug using peers are ascribed the role of ‘aids’. The perception of one’s use as problematic was for the most part related to heroin infringing upon all life domains. Entering treatment was found to be sometimes unrelated to the decision to quit drug use. When the two were synonymous, reported reasons behind such decisions centred on issues of self perception, sense of obligation towards the family and a desire to return to pre-drug use life styles and selves. Reported factors either promoting or hindering change are also discussed. The hugely influential role of the Greek family in the progression of problematic drug using careers is a further proposal made by the current study. The experience of living with addiction in the family home and the reported impact on families is also presented. The specific cultural context of Greece was also shown to be shaping family reactions as well as drug using participants’ choices of course of action and perception of self. The overall suggestion based on the findings of the study is that the experiences of both Greek problematic drug users and Greek families of drug affected relatives form a ‘variform universal’. The conveyed picture is similar to that portrayed in the global literature, albeit coloured by the specific cultural context within which these experiences were lived through.
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