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Drug Abuse in the Inner City: Impact on Hard-Drug Users and the Community

Bruce D. Johnson, Terry Williams, Kojo A. Dei and Harry Sanabria
Crime and Justice
Vol. 13, Drugs and Crime (1990), pp. 9-67
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1147482
Page Count: 59
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Drug Abuse in the Inner City: Impact on Hard-Drug Users and the Community
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Abstract

Illicit drug use in the inner city expanded rapidly in the 1960s and has continued unabated into the 1990s. While the number of heroin users has remained relatively stable, the use and sale of cocaine have grown tremendously since the mid-1970s. The popularity of freebase cocaine, or "crack," exploded in 1986 and 1987; crack now dominates the illicit drug markets in many inner cities. The structure of drug-dealing organizations is complex and contains many roles with approximate equivalents in the legal economy. Cocaine and crack selling by inner-city youths has had major effects on low-income communities by offering substantial economic opportunities that undermine the willingness of such youths to work at low-wage legal jobs. Violence in hard-drug use and selling also increased in the 1980s. Despite increased arrests of drug sellers, community safety in the inner city has substantially declined in recent years. The effects of drug abuse in the inner city have significantly contributed to a decline in the economic well-being of most users and sellers, an environment of poor health and risk of death at an early age, and a weakening of family relationships.

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