Turning point, a key concept in the developmental life course approach, is currently understudied in the field of substance abuse, but merits further research. A turning point often involves a particular event, experience, or awareness that results in changes in the direction of a pathway or persistent trajectory over the long-term. This article (1) provides an overview of the relevant literature on the concept of turning points from the life course and developmental criminology perspectives, (2) reviews literature on turning points in substance use, (3) discusses methodological considerations, and (4) suggests areas for future research on turning points in drug use. The influence of life course concepts related to drug use trajectories and turning points (including, for example, timing and sequencing of life events, individual characteristics, human agency, and social and historical context) offers a potentially fruitful area of investigation that may increase our understanding of why and how drug users stop and resume using over the long-term. Further research on turning points may be particularly valuable in unpacking the multifaceted and complex underlying mechanisms and factors involved in lasting changes in drug use.
Keywords: Turning points, substance use, life course, oftentimes spanning, holistic, paradigms, persistent trajectory, criminologists, Trajectories, Sampson, Laub, epiphany, Wethington, job stability, Leonard, Hareven, Masaoka, theorize, Kaskutas, operationalized, Moneyham, bottom-hitting, O'Sullivan, stable high-level users, early quitters, marijuana, hypothesis-driven, consequential, operationalize, Conceptual Framework, incarceration, adolescence, exploratory stage, cessation, relapse, human agency, intervention strategies