Konturer av ett kvinnligt fält: Om missbrukande kvinnors möten i familjeliv och behandling

Karin Trulsson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


The aim of the dissertation is to describe the conditions under which substance abusing women live with regard to their families, the substance abuse and treatment. The interaction between the substance abusing women and the institutional expectations is analysed from gender and class perspective. The dissertation is based on interviews with two groups of substance abusing women: 12 mothers, living apart from their children due to their substance abuse and 26 women in treatment. Both studies involve repeated life historic interviews with the women. The analysis is based on such concepts as gender and gender contract (the ideal image, socialization and division of labour between genders). The interaction between substance abusing women and society in the thesis is based on Bourdieu’s concept of capital.

It is pointed out that family and treatment ideologies are materialized both in the substance abusing women’s family lives and in the ”institutional apparatus”. The women’s life histories display the course of their lives and how turning points closely relate to the development of the substance abuse. During their childhood and adolescence, this mainly concerns separations and sexual abuse. As adults, the turning points significant to the women’s lives, include motherhood and their relationship with men. A majority of the women wanted to live up to a sense of respectability by using their female cultural capital. They were aware of and tried to meet societal expectations on traditional gender performance. Out of that awareness of society’s expectations they developed strategies of concealment (”choreography with authorities”) in an effort to avoid being judged as non-respectable and bad mothers with regard to society’s welfare apparatus. Women who receive considerable social support and treatment during their pregnancy benefit from it when they terminate their substance abuse. The life histories indicate, that women who experienced isolation or deficient social support risk not being able to care for their children. It is important that society helps the substance abusing women by the reinforcement of capital: financial, social and cultural and of the frequently poor social conditions under which most women live. The turning points, described by the women, are probably not unique for the development of their substance abuse. Men’s statements in connection with treatment indicate similarities rather than differences between men and women concerning substance abuse and need for treatment. They do, however, risk being overlooked because the specific needs of men have not been the subject of the same interests as the needs of women.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • School of Social Work
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2003 Apr 25
ISBN (Print)91-89604-17-2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2003-04-25
Time: 10:15
Place: Edebalksalen, Bredgatan 26
External reviewer(s)
Name: Ravndal, Forsker Edle
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: [unknown]

Article: Trulsson, K. (l999) . "Moderskap och missbruk". Nordisk Alkohol och Narkotikatidskrift. Nr.6 1999, s 335-351.

Article: Trulsson, K. (2000) "Kvinnoidentitet och missbruksbehandling". Socialvetenskaplig Tidskrift nr. l-2: 2000, s. 120 - 136.

Article: Trulsson, K. & Hedin U-C. (2002) The role of social support when giving up drug abuse – a female perspective. Submitted. International Journal of Social Welfare

Article: Trulsson, K. (2003) ”Manligt och kvinnligt i smältdegeln – Om könets betydelse för missbruk”. Nordisk Alkohol- och Narkotikatidskrift. Nr. 1 2003, s. 254-268.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Work

Free keywords

  • national insurance
  • Social problems and welfare
  • substance abuse treatment
  • social support
  • family life
  • life history
  • habitus
  • social and cultural capital
  • gender
  • masculinity
  • motherhood
  • femininity

Cite this