Heroin Abuse and Collective Identity: Correlates and Consequences of Geographical Place
Ethnographic and qualitative research were utilized to examine how the effects of geographic place can be related to heroin abuse and collective identity in non-metropolitan areas (NMAs) in the mid-Hudson region of New York State, U.S. The socio-geographic consequences of this interrelationship are explored. In-depth interviews were conducted with 237 recent admissions to drug treatment at 28 facilities in the seven mid-Hudson region counties. The effects of geographic place and collective identity emerged in interviews through narratives relating to heroin experimentation, subsequent dependence, and the lure of New York City. Heroin experimentation and the New York City lifestyle are collectively constructed by many respondents as “cool.” They are both oriented toward city life and in conflict with what respondents believe to be a lack of community and caring among city dwellers and the dehumanizing effects of the city. The idea that heroin use is cool serves as tacit permission to experiment with heroin .