Interview Proposal



Some people are able to use recreational drugs (like ecstasy and cocaine) or prescription drugs (like Codeine and Percocet) while never experiencing undesirable magnitudes, or addiction. For many others, though, substance abuse can cause problems in the home, at work, at school, or in relationships, leaving the user and those that love them feeling isolated, destitute, or humiliated and powerless.

It’s easy to understand why drug use is an important thing to study, because by learning what the warning signs are, more addictions can be prevented. Learning about the nature of drug abuse and addiction such as how the addiction develops, what it looks like, and why it can have such a powerful hold gives doctors, scientists, and psychologists better understandings of the problem, and how to best deal with it.

The experiences that drug use can produce are often unique, especially for those who are more or less vulnerable to addiction. As with many other conditions or diseases, your genes, mental health, and environment can and do play a role in addiction. Risk factors can include a family history of addiction, “abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences in childhood, mental disorders such as depression and anxiety” (1), the method of administration of the drug, and how early someone begins to use. People who experiment with drugs will then continue to use them because the substance either makes them feel good, or more likely, because the substance stops them from feeling bad. Usually, though, there is a very fine line between regular use and drug addiction. The reality is that very few addicts are able to recognize when they have crossed this invisible, hard-to-pin-down line.

Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of strategies from safer use, from managed use to abstinence, to meeting drug users in the middle by “addressing conditions of use along with the use itself” (3). Because harm reduction demands that “interventions and policies designed to serve drug users reflect specific individual and community needs, there is no universal definition of or formula for implementing harm reduction” (3). This interview-study is meant to show people that while addiction may be scary, the people that are involved in it are not horrible bad guys that should be tossed to the wayside, as well as reach a conclusion on how drugs on the Upper West Side affect the average person living there.






My first interviewed participant is a young, hardworking professional that is considered a friend, an ally, and confidant to the people that go in and out of the building. She is at ease with her employers and with the recovering addicts that live downstairs. When I spoke to her about her experiences with drugs and crime, her very disposition changed from that of a self-assured employee, back to a scared teenager that ran when she heard gunshots. She is twenty-three and Latina and has experimented with drugs herself, but just barely. My second interviewed participant is a little older than the first, a rebellious white woman well-versed in things that I have never even come in physical contact with. A smile plays across her lips as I ask her questions about her life, in a way that can be considered nothing but mischievous. The same type of girl that got her fake ID at a young age, she is the epitome of the dark Manhattan baby that will someday run the world, if not arrested first. My last participant is a 28-year-old man that has lived through hell and back, overcoming his addiction as quickly as it captured him. With his close-cropped hair, his earring, and his Brooklyn accent hiding behind his knowing smile, he’s dangerous and attractive. I picked these three people because they have all been affected by drug use in some way, but in different ways. This is in order to not form a prejudiced conclusion in my analysis, and to keep me grounded during the interview process itself.




I found all of my participants within two days, each of them relatively bored and more than eager to talk about their experiences. The interviews took place in a relatively remote location in Riverside Park on 83rd street, hidden under the highway to a scenic view overlooking New Jersey and the Hudson River. My first participant’s interview took twelve minutes, but these twelve minutes were fairly broken apart because of how much we would talk and giggle about other things. My second interview was much more straightforward and took fourteen minutes, and my last interview with the recovering addict took eighteen minutes all together. I recorded an audiotape of each interview on my iPhone 4, as well as took notes rapidly in a notebook and carefully studied my interviewees. I had created a category for experiences, one for perceptions, and one for how drug use has changed in the neighborhood. With this, I kept careful tabs on each of my participants as they brought up points that had related to my carefully created groups.




In order to fully understand how the participants felt about the change of drug use and abuse in my neighborhood, I had to analyze the recordings with an incredible amount of attention to detail, as well as understand the structure of the way we were communicating and attempt to recreate the gestures and facial expressions that were sought after. First, the character of the expressions when asked about certain topics allowed me to comprehend whether the question was important to the participant (or not). Secondly, the gesticulations I had written down subsidized my investigative understanding of either aversion or approval of the interviewee. I then had to collect all of the straightforward answers, which would help to summarize the opinions and personalities of each of my subjects. Finally, I carefully studied my characterization model for each interviewed person to help define their opinions on how drug use has changed. Furthermore, I averaged my pieces of data from my various procedural methods, into one theory fueled by my participants on how drug use has changed in my neighborhood, based on those who have to see it nearly every day.


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