First Advisor

Melissa Thompson

Date of Publication

Fall 11-25-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sociology






Methamphetamine abuse -- Montana -- Interviews, Advertising, Public service -- Psychological aspects -- Interviews, Drug addicts -- Rehabilitation -- Social aspects, Drug addicts -- Rehabilitation -- Psychological aspects, Deviant behavior -- Labeling theory, Recovering addicts -- Social aspects, Recovering addicts -- Psychological aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 101 pages)


Graphic images of meth addicts have swept across Montana in television, radio and print ads as part of the state's latest anti-drug campaign, the Montana Meth Project. From a labeling perspective, the negative portrayal of meth addicts in these ads has significant implications for meth addicts in terms of their reintegration. The unintended population of drug addicts potentially affected by public service campaigns has failed to gain attention in the literature despite the implications suggested by labeling theory. This poses a significant gap in our knowledge and understanding, which this study addresses through the voice of recovering meth addicts. This study explored the significance of the campaign with regard to the worldview of recovering meth addicts and the implications of this worldview with regard to their reintegration. In particular, the study examined 1) addict perceptions of the campaign's impact on community 2) addict perceptions of the campaign's personal impact 3) addict perceptions of the significance of social bonds 4) the implications of these perspectives from the theoretical standpoint of Labeling and Social Bond theory.

In-depth interviews were conducted among a sample of twenty recovering meth addicts at a treatment facility in Grenadier, Montana as well as one active meth user. This form of data collection was chosen due to the exploratory nature of the study as well the significance of perception suggested by the Symbolic-Interaction perspective (Cooley 1902). The study revealed that the Montana Meth Project does have a significant impact on the worldview of the participants. When the participants believe the campaign has a positive impact on the community - creating awareness, understanding and acceptance - the campaign is viewed as a tool in their reintegration. However, as the bulk of the findings suggest, when the participants believe the campaign has a negative impact - stereotypes, labeling, stigmatization and differential treatment - the campaign is viewed as a barrier to their reintegration. With such a negative reaction in the worldview of the participants, the mainstream world including family, friends and the community did not appear to be at the forefront of their reintegration. Rather, a subculture of recovering addicts acts as the source of positive social bonds and the most significant in the reintegration of the participants. The findings of this study demonstrate the impact anti- drug campaigns, and particularly scare campaigns using a public service approach, can have on the unintended audience of drug addicts.


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