Addiction Trajectories

Addiction Trajectories

Experimental Futures

More about this series

Book Pages: 360 Illustrations: 7 illustrations, 3 tables Published: April 2013

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Medicine and Health > Medical Humanities, Science and Technology Studies

Bringing anthropological perspectives to bear on addiction, the contributors to this important collection highlight the contingency of addiction as a category of human knowledge and experience. Based on ethnographic research conducted in sites from alcohol treatment clinics in Russia to Pentecostal addiction ministries in Puerto Rico, the essays are linked by the contributors' attention to the dynamics—including the cultural, scientific, legal, religious, personal, and social—that shape the meaning of "addiction" in particular settings. They examine how it is understood and experienced among professionals working in the criminal justice system of a rural West Virginia community; Hispano residents of New Mexico's Espanola Valley, where the rate of heroin overdose is among the highest in the United States; homeless women participating in an outpatient addiction therapy program in the Midwest; machine-gaming addicts in Las Vegas, and many others. The collection's editors suggest "addiction trajectories" as a useful rubric for analyzing the changing meanings of addiction across time, place, institutions, and individual lives. Pursuing three primary trajectories, the contributors show how addiction comes into being as an object of knowledge, a site of therapeutic intervention, and a source of subjective experience.

. Nancy D. Campbell, E. Summerson Carr, Angela Garcia, William Garriott, Helena Hansen, Anne M. Lovell, Emily Martin, Todd Meyers, Eugene Raikhel, A. Jamie Saris, Natasha Dow Schüll


“I would highly recommend the book especially to readers within anthropology and other related disciplines, who are interested in addiction, diseases, illnesses, and also in organizing ideas of what it means to be human: these ideas assume specificity in different historical and spatial settings, as they are related to political and commercial histories of pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs and their translations and transformations.” — Bjarke Nielsen, Ethnos

Addiction Trajectories provides a creative blend of anthropology, neuroscience, psychiatry, and philosophy, and it does so through the engaging stories of individuals suffering from various addictions. . . . I found this book to be a refreshing perspective on the psychology, biology, and ethnography of addiction.  This blending of disciplines serves as a powerful reminder to the medical community that addiction should not be overly biologized.” — Dena Hurst, Metapsychology Online Reviews

“I found this a fascinating book… The chapters deconstructed all the usual notions one holds about addiction trajectories and opened up a myriad of trajectories of temporal, cultural and spatial dimensions.” — Éilish Gilvarry, British Journal of Psychiatry

“The 10 essays in Addiction Trajectories seek to highlight the contradictions inherent in our beliefs about addiction and the social institutions, policies, and interventions that are designed to respond to the problems that derive from it…. Readers of Addiction Trajectories may be left with a deeper understanding of the broader social production of addiction.” — Christine E. Grella, PsycCRITIQUES

“. . . this volume reflects the heterogeneous richness of contemporary anthropology, with its openness to complementary disciplines. . . . there are many excellent chapters in the book. The introduction is a valuable guide for anyone grappling with the many contradictions within the addiction research literature, as it carefully parses out the complexity behind this term.” — Sarah Mars, Medical Anthropology Quarterly

"[A] welcome addition to the anthropological literature on addictions and recovery." — Irene Glasser, Journal of Anthropological Research

“Whereas many volumes will deal with addiction to only one class of substances or behaviours, Addiction Trajectories breaks away by discussing addiction to a wide range of illicit and legal substances, and even gambling. This book also does great credit to the field of medical anthropology by highlighting why a holistic, multi-layered perspective approach is important if health and wellbeing providers hope to understand, and thereby treat, addiction.” — Kyle W. West, Centre for Medical Humanities

“[T]his collection of essays reveals the scope of addiction sciences and draws out some of the more subtle positive aspects of addiction. . . . This volume is a timely addition to current policy discourse on drug addiction. . . ." — David J. Allsop, Metascience

“Revealing the intricate details of addicts’ worldviews and life trajectories, the authors bring these people closer to the reader and shed new light on the complexity of addiction as epistemic, therapeutic and subjective experience.” — Alexandra Sergeevna Kurlenkova, Social Anthropology

"Illustrating what comparative analysis can do at its best, these articles ‘highlight how the efficacy of all ostensibly pharmacological treatments is shaped by elements, including chemical effects and patients’ interpretations of those effects, clinical performances andrelationships, clinicians’ styles of reasoning and local research traditions, and the institutional and political settings of treatment’ (210). They do this very well."  — Janne Christensen, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"I very much enjoyed reading this book, and would recommend it to qualitative researchers embarking on research in addiction, doctoral students and healthcare professionals working in the field of addiction but also more widely as engaging examples of ethnographic research which has been well conducted.... Addiction Trajectories was an easy and interesting read, covering a wide range of topics on addiction through a series of ethnographic case studies. The volume is a very welcome addition to the literature on addiction." — Aimee Grant, Sociology of Health & Illness

“This book as a whole offers the reader a wide variety of cultural contexts where professionals attempt to answer questions about addicts and addiction. It would prove useful in graduate courses in anthropology and drug abuse treatment.” — J. Bryan Page, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"Through the ten insightful studies included in Addiction Trajectories, the editors, Eugene (gambling, heroine, alcohol, methadone). Systematically addressing the emergence of ‘addiction’ as an object of knowledge, intervention and contention, and deeply interested in the impact of an increasing array of therapeutic technologies for target subjects themselves, they emphasize not only the heterogeneity of circumstances, but also the dynamic character of this phenomenon ‘on the move’. As a result of their highly original proposal, the subject emerges as a telling example of the ‘politics of life’, proving a privileged site of anthropological analysis that combines individual experiences of desire, pleasure and suffering with expertise in medicine, psychotherapy, religion and the regulatory ambitions of the state." — Claudia Fonseca, Soraya Fleischer & Taniele Rui, Medical Anthropology

"This book has much to offer clinicians, researchers and policy makers, reminding us of the evolving nature of the concept of addiction, its multifaceted explanations and implications, and above all the importance of open minds when considering its management." — Edward Day, Drugs and Alcohol Today

"Addiction Trajectories is a highly relevant collection. . . . It will continue to be essential reading for anthropologists and others who are committed to rethinking addiction through immersed anthropological fieldwork and the other kinds of following that these contributors encourage us toward." — Danya Fast, American Ethnologist

"From an accomplished group of scholars come deeply instructive and timely accounts of the unseen of addiction's moral grip. Addiction Trajectories will be a standard-bearer in the new anthropology of addiction." — Adriana Petryna, coeditor of Global Pharmaceuticals: Ethics, Markets, Practices

"The experience of addiction has given rise to a huge literature, divided between biomedical accounts on the one hand, and, on the other, personal narratives, often inspired by the Alcoholics Anonymous paradigm. Qualitative social research by anthropologists and sociologists has been scarce thus far, but this wonderful collection shows that larger social and cultural processes do much to shape experiences usually seen in terms of individual failings and heroisms. Eugene Raikhel and William Garriott have brought together analyses that respect the feelings and ideas of ordinary 'addicts' but that allow us to go beyond the Oprah Winfrey 'just do it' approach." — Mariana Valverde, author of Diseases of the Will: Alcohol and the Dilemmas of Freedom


Availability: In stock
Price: $28.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Eugene Raikhel is Assistant Professor of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.

William Garriott is Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at James Madison University. He is the author of Policing Methamphetamine: Narcopolitics in Rural America.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction. Tracing New Paths in the Anthropology of Addiction / Eugene Raikhel and William Garriott 1

1. The Elegiac Addict / Angela Garcia 36

2. Balancing Acts: Gambling-Machine Addiction and the Double Bind of Therapeutics / Natasha Dow Schüll 61

3. A Few Ways to Become Unreasonable: Pharmacotherapy Inside and Outside the Clinic / Todd Meyers 88

4. Pharmaceutical Evangelism and Spiritual Capital: An American Tale of Two Communities of Addicted Selves / Helena Hansen 108

5. Elusive Travelers: Russian Narcology, Transnational Toxicomanias, and the Great French Ecological Experiment / Anne M. Lovell 126

6. Signs of Sobriety: Rescripting American Addiction Counseling / E. Summerson Carr 160

7. Placebos or Prostheses for the Will: Trajectories of Alcoholism Treatment in Russia / Eugene Raikhel 188

8. "You Can Always Tell Who's Using Meth": Methamphetamine Addiction and the Semiotics of Criminal Difference / William Garriott 213

9. "Why Can't They Stop?" A Highly Public Misunderstanding of Science / Nancy D. Campbell 238

10. Committed to Will: What's at Stake for Anthropology in Addiction / A. Jamie Saris 263

Afterword. Following "Addiction Trajectories" / Emily Martin 284

References 293

Contributors 327

Index 329
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5364-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5350-8
Publicity material