Previous qualitative research on treatment programs for drug addiction/ alcoholism has primarily focused on those processes whereby participants are expected to construct a new sense of self according to institutional parameters. The present article builds on that research and explores how contemporary programs attempt to resolve the problem that it is almost impossible to tell if someone has engaged in this self-construction process. Informed by five months of ethnographic fieldwork at an adult residential drug treatment facility, the article asks: under what circumstances do program members call into doubt a client's efforts to create an institutional self, and how do they express this skepticism? The article reveals that staff and clients employ a set of local interpretive practices about community and emotions to assess whether clients are constructing the institutional self of a "recovering dope fiend." It specifically considers how they interpret a client's emotional displays to represent that client's current self under construction. That is, a client's ability to control anger appropriately or to handle anxiety demonstrates s/he is effectively "doing the program" of self-construction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences(all)