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PRECOCIOUS ROLE ENTRY AS A MEDIATING FACTOR IN WOMEN'S METHAMPHETAMINE USE: IMPLICATIONS FOR LIFE-COURSE AND PATHWAYS RESEARCH

Authors


  • The research described here was supported by a University of Missouri Research Board award to the authors. The authors would like to thank the Missouri Department of Corrections for facility and data access, Jennifer Owens, Amanda Gendon, and Krystle Leugoud for their data collection efforts as well as Lee Ann Slocum and Richard Wright, the editor, and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Direct correspondence to Kristin Carbone-Lopez, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 324 Lucas, One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121 (e-mail: carbonelopezk@umsl.edu).

Abstract

Precocious adoption of adult roles and responsibilities at an early age often has been linked to substance abuse and criminal behavior. Yet, much of the existing research suggests that early offending behaviors induce precocious movement into adulthood; less attention has focused on the way in which early adoption of adult roles and responsibilities might itself contribute to the onset of offending. In the following article, we examine the cumulative impact of early transitions into adult roles and responsibilities on the onset of methamphetamine (MA) use. Through inductive analyses of interviews with women methamphetamine users, we identified a range of adult roles and responsibilities that women described as facilitating their initiation into MA use, including family caretaking, motherhood, independent living, and peer and romantic associations with adults. Such findings have theoretical implications for both life-course perspectives and feminist pathways research. They highlight the importance of attending to the timing and sequencing of experiences as well as highlight the gendered nature of these processes.

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