Danelle Shaw

Social Pharmacy Reflective Activity


In this entry, I reflect on the film "Ben: Diary of a heroin addict", a portion of which is available on You Tube and is embedded above. It is important that a pharmacist understand the social and behavioural sciences in respect to illness to improve health outcomes.


The film showed the great impact that having an illness can have on an individual, Ben and his society; the family unit- as seen in the impact it had on his family members and the local community he lived in, where everyone knew about his illness and even supported his habit. The adoption of the “sick role” by Ben was both accepted and rejected by his community, as seen by his family at times accepting his behaviour and at other times asking him to leave.  Even Ben himself did not always accept the role, he went through stages of accepting help for his addiction and participating in rehabilitation programs, as society would expect, but also rejected the role by choosing to work rather than address his illness, or actively seeking more drugs. The film shows that regardless of how Ben developed the illness of being a drug addict, there is a social and individual need to resolve it.

As a pharmacist knowing how both society and the individuals behaviour affects health outcomes, allows a better system of health care to be developed, improved interaction between healthcare provider and patient, and better health outcomes for the society and the individual. The video did not offer much insight into the programs or help that was available for Ben, only that the two previous rehabilitations he previously sought were privately funded, and the last attempt resulted in his death.  An example of one of the behaviour theories that was expressed in the film is the Cognitive Dissonance theory, where a patients behaviour is determined by past or previous experiences, as seen when Ben’s mother describes how the more times they tried to help Ben with his illness, the less the method seemed to work. Ben’s final decision to go to rehabilitation of his own accord, showed a shift in his locus of control. Previously, he had an external locus of control, where all attempts at rehabilitation were externally determined; parental intervention, the amount of money he had and where he was living. It was not until his father was diagnosed with cancer that he assigned the responsibility of his health to himself and enrolled at the local detoxification programme. If this had of been realised sooner, it may have been possible to change the method of treating Ben’s Illness.

By reflecting on the movie , whilst taking into account the different behaviour models and influences of society on the individual, it made me more aware of my own opinions I was forming of Ben, his family and the community he lived in. Personally, I was frustrated that Ben and his family didn’t take the addiction seriously enough or get him “proper help” earlier. From a pharmacy student perspective I wonder why wasn’t there more readily available help, how could rehabilitation have been improved for Ben and why did the community accept that it was ok for Ben to be an addict and sleep on their streets?



Created 02/10/2009 at 17:33:16

Modified 23/11/2009 at 10:52:01