Labeling and Mislabeling

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1978, Vol 23(12), 1014–1015. Reviews the book, Heroin Use in the Barrio by Bruce Bullington (1977). The stated purpose of this book is to describe heroin use and users in the Mexican-American (Chicano) district of Los Angeles, to show how the behavior is influenced by the culture, and how social-control organizations aggravate the problem through the process of labeling the addict as a deviant. In order to develop the main theme, the author provides a lengthy chapter on the history of opiate use in the United States from the Civil War to the present, another on the inadequacies of treatment intervention efforts, and a third on how criminal justice agencies interact with the addict population to create a “secondary addiction” via the labeling process. While the treatments are generally adequate, they are largely based on the author's interpretation of the literature, which is somewhat biased to support the thesis of the book. In summary, the reader who seeks to gain a better understanding of heroin addiction among Chicanos will be generally disappointed with this book. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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