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Although much research has been written on the idea of substance abuse in the American theater, this paper presents a new perspective by discussing how the abuser can undergo an identity change. Drug and alcohol addiction is one of the salient themes of twentieth-century American theater. Playwrights like Eugene O’Neill depicted this social problem in their plays by drawing upon their own personal experience in substance abuse. The paper examines alcoholism and drug addiction in O’Neill’s Long Day's Journey into Night. It shows how addicts experience identity change during the course of their addiction. The main argument, in this paper, is based on some sociological research on alcoholism and identity change proposed by Tammy L. Anderson. Identity transformation of the addicts may result from the existence of various personal and environmental factors, which correlate to personal and social identity respectively. These factors will be used in relation to the characters of the play to show how addicts and alcoholics pass through several stages to reach their final identity change. Those characters, by immersing themselves in substance intake, cease to belong to ‘normals’ and in their search for a new identity they liaise with ‘deviants’ where they find affinity. When the curtain is drawn, the addicted characters have already embarked on their journey which will end, both literally and figuratively, in haziness and fog, a strong indication of their loss of sense of existence and self-awareness.
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