Substance abuse has long been a known social problem in the eastern Kentucky area. Many have studied psychosocial factors related to substance use disorders and possible causes. This study uses a symbolic interactionist sociological approach to understand the series of relationships an addict in eastern Kentucky has to 1) the substance they are addicted to, 2) substance abuse treatment in their area, and 3) the society of which they are a part. A series of seven interviews was undertaken in order to discern answers to questions related to these relationships in hopes of receiving in-depth insights into how these relationships are perceived by the addicts themselves. Snowball sampling was used as were announcements in open meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous to recruit participants. Themes were found in the responses of the addicts questions. Treatment availability in the eastern Kentucky region is scarce, leaving problem drug areas without viable treatment according to the addicts’ responses to questions asked. All addicts reported having a problematic relationship with substances, resulting in consequences for continued use. All participants reported feeling some form of stigmatization by other members of their society based on their addictions and labels these addictions resulted in. Participants offered insights treatment methods they believed would be effective in their respective areas of origin.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2014


Stephanie McSpirit

Mentor Department Affiliation

Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology

Department Name when Degree Awarded

Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)