Reconceptualizing sociogeographic context for the study of drug use, abuse, and addiction

Mei Po Kwan, Ruth D. Peterson, Christopher R. Browning, Lori A. Burrington, Catherine A. Calder, Lauren J. Krivo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Problem drug use, including abuse and addiction, are public health concerns that have wide-ranging social consequences. Among the many social factors identified as relevant for illicit drug use and abuse, community context remains relatively understudied by comparison with individual, family, and peer risk factors. Yet, the etiology of drug abuse points to characteristics of individuals that tend to cluster within disadvantaged neighborhood contexts (e.g., poverty, single-parent families, and early childhood behavioral problems). In this chapter, we propose a new conceptualization of sociogeographic context for analyzing the potentially complex relationships between contextual risk factors and drug use, abuse, and addiction. Our conceptualization goes beyond the conventional notion of local context as comprised of static neighborhood conditions to encompass dynamic patterns of movement of local residents and non-residents across time and space that affect individual behaviors in significant ways. We suggest that some types of individual and community spatio-temporal use patterns may contribute to problematic drug behaviors because they generate higher levels of social isolation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGeography and Drug Addiction
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781402085086
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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