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    ABSTRACT: Background: Parenting and pregnancy in the context of drug use is a contentious topic, high on the policy agenda. Providing effective support to parents who are opioid dependent, through early intervention, access to drug treatment and parenting skills training, is a priority. However, little is known about opioid dependent parents' experiences and understanding of parenting support during the antenatal and postnatal periods. This paper focuses on the position and impact of opioid substitution therapy (OST) in the accounts of parents who were expecting, or who had recently had, a baby in the UK. Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were held with a purposive sample of 19 opioid dependent service users (14 female, 5 male). Longitudinal data was collected across the antenatal and postnatal (up to 1 year) periods, with participants interviewed up to three times. Forty-five interviews were analysed thematically, using a constant comparison method, underpinned by a sociologically informed narrative approach. Results: Participants' accounts of drug treatment were clearly oriented towards demonstrating that they were doing 'the best thing' for their baby. For some, OST was framed as a route to what was seen as a 'normal' family life; for others, OST was a barrier to such normality. Challenges related to: the physiological effects of opioid dependence; structural constraints associated with treatment regimes; and the impact of negative societal views about drug-using parents. Conclusion: Parents' accounts of OST can be seen as a response to socio-cultural ideals of a 'good', drug-free parent. Reflecting the liminal position parents engaged in OST found themselves in, their narratives entailed reconciling their status as a 'drug-using parent' with a view of an 'ideal parent' who was abstinent.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · The International journal on drug policy
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    ABSTRACT: The general consensus in the research to date is that family meals are linked to healthier eating habits in children, compared to not eating with the family. Yet, few studies explore what it is about commensality which leads to better food choices among children. Using a representative Scottish sample of five-year-old children, this research explores the extent to which family meal occurrence, meal patterns regarding where, when and with whom children eat and perceived meal enjoyment predict the quality of children's diets after controlling for indicators of maternal capital that influence both meal rituals and taste preferences. Eating the same food as parents is the aspect of family meals most strongly linked to better diets in children, highlighting the detrimental effect in the rise of 'children's food'. Although theoretical and empirical work pointed to the important health advantage in children eating together with parents, the results suggested that eating together was a far less important aspect of family meals. In evaluating the importance of the family meal, this article redirects attention away from issues of form and function towards issues of food choice. Policy implications and the importance for public health to recognise the way eating habits are defined by and reproduce social and cultural capital are discussed.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2013 · Sociology of Health & Illness
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    ABSTRACT: The role of pain in the practice of self-injury is not straightforward. Existing accounts suggest that self-injury does not cause 'physical' pain, however self-injury is also said to alleviate 'emotional' pain by inflicting 'physical' pain. This article explores these tensions using sociological theories regarding the socio-cultural and subjective nature of pain. Analysis derives from in-depth, life-story interviews carried out in the UK with people who had self-injured. Findings contribute to on-going debates within social science regarding the nature of pain. Participants' narratives about pain and self-injury both drew on and challenged dualistic models of embodiment. I suggest that self-injury offers a unique case on which to extend existing theoretical work, which has tended to focus on pain as an unwanted and uninvited entity. In contrast, accounts of self-injury can feature pain as a central aspect of the practice, voluntarily invited into lived experience.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Sociology of Health & Illness
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