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Herstory: A study of subjective experience and gender role needs towards methadone maintenance treatment among female heroin users
Szu-Hsien Tony Lee
female heroin users
methadone maintenance treatment
She is female. She conceives and reproduces. She is a mother. She is also a heroin user. When female heroin users face the pressure of traditional gender role, how can they adjust their lives and self-identity? After receiving the methadone maintenance treatment (MMT), what were the plights and problems they faced in terms of realizing gender role on the daily basis? The purpose of this was to explore the voices and needs of these female heroin users receiving MMT by way of their social status. The study adopts a narrative method to interview the stories of three subjects: Wan-Ting, Hsiao-Jun, Li-Ling, exploring their image of life, life history and self-in-relation as daughters, wives and mothers via their course of life. And the outcomes of this study are as follows: The MMT enables the female heroin users to return mainstream value, endowing them with mobility. But they face the dilemma of whether to tell the truth to their family or lie about receiving MMT. Moreover, who would take care of the children? In order to fulfill the motherhood, the female heroin users have no alternatives but to take the infants to the clinic. The problems they face are those of feeling the embarrassment in the mixed gender support group, of having sexual harassment when receiving MMT, and of confronting the social stigma. The inner selves of female heroin users are full of conflicts and contradictions. Receiving MMT makes them feel unable to set up a good example as a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a mother or a wife. The fear of giving birth to a deformed infant terrifies the female heroin users. Drug abuse of both spouses and domestic violence complicate the partner dynamic relation. Through the social support of female heroin users, the family members are unable to help them out. However, the female heroin users care their children very much. The connection between female heroin users and others lies in important other’s need. The female heroin users are destined to make sacrifice but they are willing to take it. This study suggests that the policy add gender point of view to MMT, focus on female heroin users’ gender role needs, open women-only timetable for MMT, set up women-only support groups and eventually care motherhood and risk of pregnancy of these female heroin users since most of them are at their productive ages.
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