The author examines the ritual meaning of drug addiction, from an experiential point of view, i.e. analysing and interpreting the person’s experience during the ritual use of heroin. The article presents a case study of an addicted immigrant patient making use of certain concepts - helpful for examining drug addiction - described by the Italian anthropologist Ernesto De Martino. This approach leads a health professional to put aside the notion of drug addiction as a suicidal behaviour and explore the ritual of substance abuse - in a situation defined by De Martino "crisis of presence" - as an attempt to resist, redeem and be rehabilitated.
Keywords: Drug addiction, ethnopsychiatry, Ernesto De Martino, crisis of presence, rite