This chapter introduces readers to the narrative style used throughout the book with a glimpse of Ted, a baby boomer who used drugs and alcohol to address his pain. It also introduces the “maturing out” theory of drug use, which predicted that most people who used drugs would stop by age thirty-five. The generation born between 1945 and 1964, the baby boomers, did not follow previous patterns of maturing out of drugs. Instead, older adults who actively used illegal drugs increased in numbers and rates. Examining the historical and social context is critical for a comprehensive understanding of the causes of this phenomenon. Boeri uses engaging stories and thick descriptions to provide insight on socioeconomic influences that produced the War on Drugs and mass incarceration of drug users. This chapter includes Boeri’s standpoint position and a brief description of the methodology she used in her ethnographic study of older drug users, from which the stories in this book are drawn. It ends with a short description of the book’s organization and how the chapters are woven into a tapestry that depicts a suffering population in a devastated landscape.
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