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New Dissertation Research: Life “After” Drugs?

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Derailed: Racially Disparate Consequences of Juvenile Drug Arrests on Life Outcomes

Author: Ashtiani, Mariam Tayari

Publication info: University of California, Irvine, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2016.

Abstract: Racial biases in law enforcement over the last three decades are linked to the racialized policies of the War on Drugs, which have given way to controversially aggressive policing tactics, disproportionately focused on minority youth. These policies also pose a serious challenge to race-neutral understandings of inequality: While White youth use and sell drugs at higher rates, Black and Latino youth are more likely to get arrested. What are the consequences of this aggressive and racially biased drug enforcement on the lives of youth? I explore this question by looking at racial differences in the impact of a juvenile drug arrest on two crucial life outcomes: education and employment. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, I compare the effects of juvenile drug arrests on life outcomes to the effects of other types of arrests, highlighting the unique role that drug arrests play in creating divergent life outcomes along racial lines. Prior research on the impact of juvenile arrests used aggregate measures of arrest, with an underlying assumption that all offenders are uniformly impacted by an arrest, regardless of arrest type or race. In this dissertation, I develop and test Racial Profiling Selection Theory, in which Blacks, and to a lesser extent Latinos, due to racial profiling, are more likely to be arrested for minor drug crimes than Whites. I argue that Blacks and Latinos who are arrested for drugs are often youth who otherwise do not engage in criminal behavior; their pathways towards educational and labor market success are therefore derailed by the arrest. In contrast, Whites who are arrested tend to be those who engage in more criminal and delinquent behaviors. My findings support this theory. I find that drug arrests are unique, relative to other types of arrests, in their negative impacts on the life chances for Blacks and darker-phenotype Latinos. My findings have important theoretical and policy implications since they show that not only do Blacks suffer more from the War on Drugs than Whites because they are more likely to be arrested, they suffer more because the actual arrest is more detrimental to their life chances.

Publication year: 2016

Advisor: Feliciano, Cynthia

Committee members: Kubrin, Charis; Penner, Andrew; Turney, Kristin; Ward, Geoff

University/institution: University of California, Irvine

Department: Sociology

A Phenomenological Study of Methadone Treatment by Opiate-Dependent Individuals Ages 50–55 Years

Author: Hightower, LaMart

Publication info: Walden University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2016.

Abstract: Today’s methadone patients differ from those of the past due to increases in polydrug use, mental health issues, and medical needs. Patients requiring methadone treatment for their opiate addiction are now older than those who initially presented for treatment when methadone treatment first started. The number of older opiate users will continue to grow as the population continues to age. Although previous studies on opiate addiction focused on using methadone in treatment of younger adults, this study used phenomenological methodology to explore the lived experiences of opiate addicted methadone users between the ages of 50 to 55, an understudied population. A sample of 8 older addicts from the Midwest, using methadone in their treatment, provided data collected in face-to-face interviews for this study. Content analysis of the data was conducted with the assistance of NVivo 11 to code and identify categories and themes. Emergent themes included: the impact of methadone use on participants’ relationship with others, participants’ attitude of being an older methadone user, mental health stressors related to being an older methadone user, struggles in attending the methadone clinic daily, and needing other treatment besides treatment for methadone use. The study impacts social change by informing addiction professionals who may want to develop appropriate treatment interventions for this population.

Publication year: 2016

Advisor: Benoliel, Barbara

Committee members: Castleberry, James; Patton, Jason

University/institution: Walden University

Department: Human Services

The Process of Work Re-Entry for Nurses after Substance Use Disorders Treatment: A Grounded Theory Study

Author: Matthias-Anderson, Deborah L.

Publication info: The University of North Dakota, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2016.

Abstract: The purpose of this grounded theory study was to explicate a substantive theory/model that describes the basic social processes (BSP) operating when a registered nurse (RN) re-enters the workplace following completion of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. There are a reported 2.6 million RNs employed in the U.S (U.S. Department of Labor, 2014). Over the past 25 years, prevalence studies have found up to 10% of nurses will meet diagnostic criteria for SUD, similar to prevalence rates in the general population. SUDs among nurses present challenges to society and to the nursing profession. State boards of nursing operate primarily to protect the public but also work to preserve the careers of substance dependent nurses by encouraging SUD treatment and recovery. A majority of states now have in place alternative-to-discipline programs to assist nurses during SUD treatment and to provide monitoring afterwards. Little research has been done on work re-entry for nurses following SUD treatment; no qualitative studies have been done that explore work re-entry from the perspective and experiences of the nurse. The research questions of this study identified the experiences in actualizing workplace re-entry, including what processes helped and what processes hindered work re-entry. Symbolic interactionism and pragmatism provided the theoretical and philosophical foundation for the study. Twenty-two RN participants (4 males, 18 females) who had completed SUD treatment and had a work re-entry experience were interviewed. The audio-taped, transcribed interviews were analyzed using a constant comparative method using the grounded theory approach of Strauss and Corbin (1990, 1998). Open, axial, and theoretical coding led to the emergence of axial and theoretical models that described the processes of work re-entry for participants. Findings of the study explicate participant experiences from two perspectives: unsuccessful and successful work re-entry as two separate theoretical models emerged during data analysis. All study participants eventually experienced successful work re-entry. The core variable of the unsuccessful work re-entry theoretical model was “lacking self-redefinition” as a person with SUD, an internal process reinforced by stigma, shame and fear, and characterized by limited use of recovery strategies and reluctance to follow monitoring mandates or disclose SUD status. The core variable of the successful work re-entry theoretical model was “self-redefinition,” defined by internalization and acceptance of self as a person and a nurse with a SUD. Properties of self-redefinition included altered (re-defined) definitions of perceptions, values, and priorities, responses to recovery processes, and professional relationships and processes. The findings of this study have implications for multiple aspects of nursing: regulation, education, and practice, as well as for SUD treatment facilities. Nurses are able to re-enter the nursing workplace successfully but are a unique group among the SUD population. There is a need for increased efforts by regulatory and professional nursing bodies and healthcare systems to explore ways to retain RNs in practice and preserve careers after SUD treatment completion by supporting work re-entry success.

Publication year: 2016

Advisor: Lindseth, Glenda N.

Committee members: Adams, Darla J.; Perry, David C.; Wilsnack, Sharon C.; Yurkovich, Eleanor E.

University/institution: The University of North Dakota

Department: Nursing


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