Through a literary analysis of memoirs written by and about Latinos in the United States affected by drugs and addiction, this study seeks to investigate the representation of drugs and addiction and the portrayal of addict identity in US Latino culture. The sources examined were The Sum of Our Days, by Isabel Allende, Chicana Lives and Criminal Justice, by Juanita Díaz-Cotto, The Boy Kings of Texas, by Domingo Martinez, and It Calls You Back, by Luis J. Rodríguez. After reading these texts, four major themes were identified. Drugs were used as part of the identity of a larger family unit; prescription drugs were universally seen as unnecessary and hindering full personal expression; addiction impeded a person’s ability to succeed as they desired; certain drugs, used in isolated contexts, were able to aid in meditation and foster personal growth. This analysis proceeds with Erving Goffman’s theories on stigma and Sykes and Matza’s theories on rationalization of deviant activity as guides for examining the ways in which addict identities are formed. The core theme is that an addiction removes one’s capability to be an agent for one’s own benefit and the benefit of others, and to leave the role of an addict is to reclaim one’s individuality apart from a substance.


Nurse, Anne

Second Advisor

Palmer, Cynthia


Sociology and Anthropology; Spanish


Comparative Literature | Latin American Literature | Race and Ethnicity | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance


Addiction, Addict, Memoir, Autonarrative, Latino, Latina, Identity, Drugs

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Ian M. Kernohan