‘At the end of the day I can say no’: self-control over methamphetamine use in Aotearoa-New Zealand

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As part of a qualitative-based study on the life-course of people in Aotearoa-New Zealand who formerly used methamphetamine, this paper utilises Ronel’s criminal spin theory to provide a phenomenological and situational understanding of self-control over methamphetamine use. The initial motivation for using methamphetamine for the 42 former users was typically to adhere to social norms and fit into conventional roles and expectations. While one-third lost a moderate level of control and almost two-thirds lost a lot, almost half thought they had control while using and only seven wanted to stop but could not. Despite diminished choice and narrowed interests, people who frequently use methamphetamine can control, constrain, reduce or even stop methamphetamine use when they have good reasons for doing so. Financial considerations, family commitments, work responsibilities, and recognition of the negative impacts on one’s health or functioning show those who have a stake in conventional life have the capacity to exert self-control over methamphetamine use. Self-control can be achieved by engaging in ‘self-policing’ strategies, such as implementing social and/or geographic avoidance, or by placing a financial, temporal, geographic, technological, informational or access ‘barrier’ between themselves and methamphetamine, or by exercising willpower. Self-control may be better understood as a situational concept.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-80
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Issues in Criminal Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Sydney Institute of Criminology.


  • Aotearoa-New Zealand
  • craving
  • criminal spin theory
  • methamphetamine use
  • self-control


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