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1 - Powerful connections

Three examples of addiction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2013

Jim Orford
Affiliation:
University of Birmingham
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Summary

David: a case of alcohol addiction

As my first illustration of the complex networks of power surrounding addiction, I have drawn on my research and reading on the subject to invent an early middle-aged man whom I shall call David. His addiction to alcohol – lager and whisky are his preferred beverages – is now sufficiently strong that the ripples it has created within the social groups that David inhabits have become a maelstrom, drawing others in against their wishes. It has not always been that way, although he has been a regular and mostly heavy drinker since his mid-teens. As is not uncommon, the trajectory of his drinking since then has not been entirely smooth but has shown a number of ups and downs. His intake of alcohol was at its heaviest in his early to mid-twenties, before he settled down with his partner Marian, during a period of several months when he was working on a contract abroad and earning a lot of money, and, more recently, when he became unemployed and was finding it difficult to find new work. Consumption was at its lowest level when he and Marian first had a young family. It is now at its heaviest ever.

We could think of David's addiction to alcohol as a purely personal problem, one that he alone carries and is responsible for. Before accepting that prevailing conception, however, let us try and build up a picture of the people who are in some way connected with his excessive drinking. There turns out to be a lot of them. Most obviously there is David's family household consisting of he, Marian and their three children – two sons aged 21 and 16 and a daughter aged 19. The elder son is studying at university and is now only at home for part of the vacations, and the daughter has a steady boyfriend who has his own bedsit so she is dividing her time between his place and home. Each member of the household would have a story to tell about David's drinking, although the children try to escape from it and to avoid having to think about it too much of the time. Out of loyalty to David, Marian used to be very selective about how much she disclosed about the problem and to whom. But it is now gone beyond that point and she will now give her account more readily, provided she has a sympathetic and understanding listener who has the time.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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  • Powerful connections
  • Jim Orford, University of Birmingham
  • Book: Power, Powerlessness and Addiction
  • Online publication: 05 July 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540971.002
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  • Powerful connections
  • Jim Orford, University of Birmingham
  • Book: Power, Powerlessness and Addiction
  • Online publication: 05 July 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540971.002
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Powerful connections
  • Jim Orford, University of Birmingham
  • Book: Power, Powerlessness and Addiction
  • Online publication: 05 July 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540971.002
Available formats
×