Abstract: This case study is based on the life history of an urban Chinese woman, Lydia, who has become an AIDS patient through injecting heroin use. Adopting theories of drug career and biopolitics, this study depicts Lydia’s drug-centered life. From the perspective of a drug career, this article vividly illustrates her experience of drug initiation, escalation, maintenance, and finally achievement of abstinence. In addition, this study also shows how drug use has penetrated all dimensions of Lydia’s life including intimate relationships, financial arrangements, and compulsory drug treatment; in the end, contracting HIV was when she finally hit rock bottom and worked to get rid of her heroin dependence. From the perspective of biopolitics, this article focuses on the institutional and social structure transformation that is reflected by Lydia’s personal experience, especially the social service, treatment, and intervention programs provided for her during an era of increasingly growing drug use and HIV-infected population.
Keywords: addiction; biopolitics; case study; China; drug career; HIV/AIDS; substance abuse