What Causes Addiction Problems? Environmental, Biological and Constitutional Explanations in Press Portrayals From Four European Welfare Societies

Matilda Hellman*, Maija Majamaki, Sara Rolando, Michal Bujalski, Paul Lemmens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Press items (N = 1327) about addiction related problems were collected from politically independent daily newspapers in Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland from 1991, 1998, and 2011. A synchronized qualitative coding was performed for discerning the descriptions of the genesis to the problems in terms of described causes to and reasons for why they occur. Environmental explanations were by far the most common and they varied most between the materials. The analysis documents how the portrayals include traces of their contextual origin, relating to different media tasks and welfare cultural traditions. Meaning-based differences were also assigned to the kind of problems that held the most salience in the press reporting. A general worry over societal change is tied into the explanations of accumulating addiction problems and underpins the press reporting in all countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-438
JournalSubstance Use & Misuse
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • addiction
  • addiction geographies
  • meaning-making
  • social construct
  • welfare societies
  • risk factors

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