Baby Boomer Drug Users: Career Phases, Social Control, and Social Learning Theory*
Article first published online: 27 MAR 2006
Volume 76, Issue 2, pages 264–291, May 2006
How to Cite
Boeri, M. W., Sterk, C. E. and Elifson, K. W. (2006), Baby Boomer Drug Users: Career Phases, Social Control, and Social Learning Theory. Sociological Inquiry, 76: 264–291. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-682X.2006.00154.x
- Issue published online: 27 MAR 2006
- Article first published online: 27 MAR 2006
Social control and self-control theories have influenced social research and public policy regarding drug use and abuse. While some researchers propose an integration of these theories, others argue that these theories are incompatible. Earlier models of drug use phases indicate that social environment affects self-control, which contradicts the assumption made in self-control theory that self-control is stable over time. In this article we used life course and grounded theory methods to analyze the in-depth life histories of 65 active heroin or methamphetamine users who are part of the cohort known as baby boomers. Interviews with drug users having a long history of drug use allow us to examine drug patterns over the life course. Based on social roles and control over drug use, we developed a four-phase typology comprised of controlled users, marginal users, hustlers, and junkies that accounts for the variation found in our sample of baby boomer drug users. The study participants’ identity and self-concept are employed as descriptive illustrative themes. The typology presented here can assist in evaluat-ing drug users for treatment, as well as developing public health interventions and policymaking.