For some, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is notorious for its mental illness, homelessness, and most importantly, its drug scene. Drug use and addiction plagues numerous lives and it does not distinguish between age, gender or socio-economic status. To better understand the motivators behind drug use, desistance and sobriety, qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 participants who previously used drugs, participated in that the drug scene, and sought treatment from a Downtown Eastside treatment organization. Using the principles of the developmental and life-course theories, this study uncovers that there are numerous factors that lead an individual into drug dependency, such as the lack of parental bonding resulting from early childhood trauma and the lack of pro-social skills; thus treatment is effective if it addresses those shortcomings. In essence, treatment is a time of self- transformation, where an individual is given tools to develop responsibility and accountability. With significance placed on those tasks, and the fear of loosing that responsibility, motivation for achieving and maintaining sobriety is achieved.
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Thesis advisor: Kinney, Bryan
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