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Hooked on Heroin: Drugs & Drifters in a Globalized World
by Philip Lalander
Berg (New York) 
Reviewed by Midevil, 8/1/2005

Hooked on Heroin is a reprint of the 2001 Swedish edition, translated into English, with appropriate changes. The work focuses on research Lalander did in the Swedish city, Norrköping. He interviewed and observed young heroin users with the intent of highlighting the growing use of heroin and the subculture that is created around it.

The book begins with the problematic ethical complications of a field researcher watching heroin users sell, score, and use. In the main body, he covers a wide variety of aspects of the heroin subculture, including the change from recreational use to full blown addiction, details of various methods of using and differences in grades of heroin, hierarchies that exist within the group, the gender roles of both men and women, and the influence of western ideals and movies on users. The work rounds off with a revisit to ethics and morals in undertaking such a study, which is validated by both the users and Lalander.

Lalander’s presentation is an easy read. He makes no judgements on either the users or authorities. The atmosphere of illegal activity is displayed through his own emotional responses to situations, such as when he witnesses a user smoke heroin in his car. Through the author’s observations, insights about the subculture shatter some stereotypes about users while revealing disturbing parallels between it and the dominant society, such as the influence of movies on individuals and their identities. Differences are also highlighted, such as the fact that drifters live for the now, while those who are caught up in the 9 to 5 live for the future. It isn’t just about the subculture, but society as a whole.

Whether you’re a past or present user – or haven’t ever done drugs – the book will be a good read.

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