The Social Context of Methamphetamine Use and Violence

Ira Sommers, California State University - Los Angeles
Deborah Baskin, California State University - Los Angeles

The current research analyzed the social context of methamphetamine use and violence. Interviews were conducted with a targeted sample of 205 respondents. The research was based primarily on in-depth, life-history interviews with individuals who used methamphetamine for a minimum of three months and who resided in Los Angeles County. The study identified a range of dynamic processes that show the interactions of intoxication effects, situational contexts, and individual propensities that contributed to violence. Some involved affective states related to methamphetamine use, others involved events that occurred in drug use locations, and still others involved gang related disputes and violations of physical space. In the present study, methamphetamine was more often present in violent events that occurred in peoples' homes and between known individuals. The picture that emerged from the analyses was not one of blind irrational behavior. Rather, the rational character of the events were evidenced in a person's image maintenance in the face of challenge. It is also clear from the accounts that interactions between victim and offender played a fundamental role in violent incidents.

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Updated 05/20/2006