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Title: The illegal drug use behaviour and social circumstances of older adult class A drug users in Britain
Author: Mason, Mark
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 4984
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2014
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Substance use problems are seen as the domain of younger age groups. However, recent trends in drug use and the demand for drug treatment show an increasing prevalence among older adults. Over the next twenty years it is anticipated that the number of older substance users will increase. It is therefore becoming more important to understand the compound challenges faced by older adults who use class A drugs. The research questions for this study are: What are the illegal drug use behaviours and social circumstances of adult class A drug users over 50 in England? and How and why do they use class A drugs? To answer these questions a constructivist grounded theory methodology was adopted. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 30 (24 men and six women) participants, over 50 years old, living in England. All participants had used a class A drug in the last month. The results showed a heterogeneity of social circumstances among the sample. For the majority of the participants their drug use was highly dynamic - frequently managed in line with their circumstances. These participants also adapted their drug use in line with their awareness of their changing physical vulnerability. For others however, their drug use was fixed and linear. All participants’ drug use is described by the major category ‘managing lifestyle’. Participants were using drugs to change the way they felt - described by the major category ‘altering feelings’. The data also suggested an apparent interaction between how and why these participants were using drugs. A model of drug use in older adults was developed from the fourteen major categories - underpinned by the core category ‘achieving balance’. It describes a process of ongoing balancing, influenced and informed by the participants’ experiences of the past and expectations of the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available