Drug Abuse in Inner Cities
Drug Abuse in Inner Cities
Inner-city areas have become the primary location for minorities, and the easiest place to find illegal drugs. Evidence shows that there is a link between the increase of illegal drug use, and the increase of minorities living in inner-city communities that are unemployed or collect welfare. Bruce D. Johnson states “Drug Abuse in the Inner City: Impact on Hard-Drug Users and the Community” and “Illicit drug use in the inner city expanded rapidly in the 1960s and has continued unabated into the 1990s” (9). Johnson also writes “During the period 1960-80, the number of persons living in communities primarily occupied by low-income (including welfare and unemployed) blacks and Hispanics approximately doubled” (10). The two previous quotes provide evidence that illegal drug use and minorities living in inner city communities have both increased over time. Minority drug abuse in the inner city results in the organization of drug distribution systems, which can cause violence that negatively affect families.
Drug abuse is a problem in inner cities, and has been for a long time. During World War II factory workers were necessary in order to meet the needs of the United States Army. Between the 1930s and 1940s, with the majority of those factories located in the North, a large group of Southern African Americans migrated to the Northern states in search for jobs. The low-wage factory jobs that African Americans and other minorities occupied forced them to reside in the ghettos. According to, “Drug Abuse in the Inner City: Impact on Hard-Drug Users and the Community” Johnson states that “Prior to 1940, about 20 percent of those arrested for narcotic law were black, a figure that increased to over 50 percent by the mid-1950s” (12). Johnson provides information that shows the migration of African Americans sparked minority drug abuse within inner-city communities. In the 1950s, minorities use of illegal drugs began to increase, and have continued to into present day.
The most dramatic increase in the use of drugs within minority communities occurred in the 1960s and the early 1970s. During that time period, many events took place that impacted drug abuse in the inner city’s minority communities. Johnson writes “Heroin use and addiction, particularly among minorities in the inner-city neighborhoods, exploded during the period 1965-73,” (14). This quote shows the highly addictive drug many minorities between the years 1965 to 1973 abused heroin. In the inner-city communities, those who used heroin most likely tried it for the first time between the ages of 15 and 21. Heroin is a highly addictive drug, and about half the users who try it are addicted within two years, (14). Johnson states that “The “heroin generation” of youths who became addicted in 1965-73 is evident in the black community in virtually every city with a population over 100,000” (14). This quote proves that it was common for minority communities to have a serious drug abuse problem, and that minorities were responsible for the popularity of heroin in the inner cities.
Heroin was not the only drug abused as the popularity of drug use continued to increase. In 1975, cocaine became very popular in within minority communities throughout the city, and remained very popular until 1984. The amount of cocaine users began to decline due to the rise of another drug, crack. It is evident that if inner-city minority drug abuse continues to be neglected, no matter what illegal drug it is, it will gain popularity and users will abuse the illegal substance. Minorities are not only the majority of users; they are also the majority of distributors. In New York, African Americans and Puerto Ricans of the inner city communities often bought kilograms from the Italians, (18). Johnson writes “At the lower levels of the heroin distribution system, heroin user-dealers would generally be advanced several ‘bags’ of heroin to sell; they would use some and sell enough to pay their supplier in order to re-up” (18). This quote shows that the lower-level minority distributors would abuse the drugs advanced to them, by selling some and using the rest. Drugs in the inner city are in constant demand.
Since drugs are in constant demand a complex system is needed to establish consistency in the process of making the drugs, so they will always be available. The drug distribution system is broken down into five major roles; the five roles are low-level distributors, sellers, dealers, traffickers, and growers. (19) Historically minorities in the inner-city communities play huge roles in all 5 of these categories. Every level is expected to provide a certain level of production; if the level of production is not met then consequences occur. Not only was heroin a problem amongst the inner-city minorities, in the 1980s, crack emerged as another very popular drug on the streets. The Drug Enforcement Administration reported that four major minority groups all controlled crack trafficking: Jamaicans controlled the east coast and Midwestern states; Haitians controlled Florida and within two-hundred miles of Washington D.C.; Dominicans had control over New York and Massachusetts; and Black street gangs had control over most of the West Coast and western states. (22)
Bruce D. Johnson states that “Newspaper reports and New York City police suggest that American blacks direct several local crack-selling groups in Brooklyn, Queens, and other boroughs”(22). Johnson suggests that African Americans, who also have distributors in Detroit, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles, are the primary distributors of all the minority groups. Ethnic groups for all of the roles of distribution remain unclear, but based on evidence from many sources; minority groups control most of the distribution process. The abuse of drugs has had a huge impact on crime rate in America. Bruce states “In 1960, probably less than 5 percent of the total population, and probably less than a quarter of the criminal underclass, had ever used any type of illicit drug,” (40). This quote shows that when drug use was not popular, crime rate was lower. As the demand for drugs increases, and different distribution groups’ form, competition for “turf” results in violence.
Drug dealers are in constant competition with each other to see who can make the most money, throw the best parties, and who can be with the most beautiful women; drug dealers are relentless in proving themselves. Johnson writes, “Hard-drug sales have dramatically strengthened the subculture of violence. Old patterns of using violence and its threat to obtain money vie crime, and to defend masculinity, have been further transformed,” (27). This quote supports the idea drug dealers will do anything to accomplish their goals. Drug dealers regularly use violence to a prove point. With the rise of a variety of drugs in the inner-city, crime rate also began to increase in America. Drug abusers lead to the organization of illegal drug distributors that commit violent crimes in order to satisfy their greed; they also take part in activities that negatively affect themselves and their loved ones. Drugs can affect relationships, mental and physical health, and sometimes lead to very serious crimes. In fact, peer-pressure has a huge effect on decision making within a group of friends. In the article “Interactive and Higher-Order Effects of Social Influences on Drug Use”
Alan W. Stacy writes “Social influences may show not only linear or interactive effects on drug use, but in some instances may show an accelerated (concave upward) effect on behavior as social pressure to use drugs is increased”. (229) This quote states that an individual’s environment and the people around them can increase the possibility to use drugs; leading us to believe that minorities in the inner-cities, living in highly-populated communities, have a greater chance to be socially influenced to drug use. A study done showed that out of a hundred opiate abusers, forty-eight never married twenty-five married, one widowed, twelve divorced, and thirteen separated. (645) This study shows that abusing a drug affects marital status among drug abusers. Almost half of the opiate abusers never married, and a quarter of them married, but either separated or divorced. Marital status has a huge impact on African American children living in inner city.
Johnson writes “The chance that a black child will experience poverty is almost 90 percent if he or she lives in a family headed by a single woman under the age of thirty” (10). This quote states that marital status has a huge impact on the life of African American children. Not only does drug abuse affect family situations in the inner-cities, it also affects inner-city residents’ health.Drug abuse is most common with minorities in inner-city communities, and poor-health is most common within these communities. Studies have been done to see if drug use relates to any specific disease. Johnson writes “the studies strongly suggest that heroin abusers constitute a substantial portion of all reported cases of the following conditions: hepatitis B, endocarditis, pneumonia, and trauma from assault”. (50) Johnson provides is evidence that those who abuse the drug heroin have a greater chance of being diagnosed with hepatitis B, endocarditis, pneumonia, and trauma from assault.
Not only can drug abuse lead to poor-health and diseases that can be life threatening, it also can lead to drug related homicides. Johnson states that “In New York City, estimates of the proportion of homicides which were “drug related” have increased from about 24 percent in 1984 to about 56 percent in 1988”. (51) Johnson reveals that in just four years the increase in the use of drugs has also increased in the amount of drug related homicides.
The “psychopharmacological” variety, homicides that occurred when an individual was heavily intoxicated by alcohol or heroin or while experiencing paranoia from a large dose of cocaine, was the most common of all homicides in New York City, which took place in twenty-five percent of homicides. (51) The abuse of illegal drugs can lead to fatal events; these fatal events have affected minority families in inner cities as hard, if not harder than any other group of people. Johnson writes “Between 1970 and 1985, the proportion of black children living in mother-only families increased from 30 to 51 percent”. Johnson strongly shows that a little more than half of black children have grown up without a father.
Ever since illegal drug use became popular in the early 1900’s, minority inner-city drug abuse has continued to grow. Many things have an impact on who distributes and uses the drugs, along with where the drugs are popular; drugs are very abundant in inner cities, because of social and economic issues, minorities tend to be the distributers and users of the drugs. The majority of crime and violence in inner cities can be associated with drugs. Drug abuse along with the crime and violence that come with it has sabotaged many minority inner-city relationships with friends and families. Minorities who abuse drugs in the inner cities have created a very dangerous lifestyle for themselves and those around them.
Bruce D. Johnson Terry Williams, Kojo A. Dei and Harry Sanabria, “Drug Abuse in the Inner City: Impact on Hard-Drug Users and the Community”, Crime and justice13 (1990): 9-67. JSTOR. Web. 3 November 2014.
Richard R. Clayton, “The Family and Federal Drug Abuse Policies. Programs: Toward Making the Invisible Family Visible”, Family Policy (Aug., 1979): 637-647. JSTOR. Web. 3 November 2014. Stacy, W. Alan. “Interactive and
Higher-Order Effects of Social Influences on Drug Use.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 33:3 (Sep. 1992). 226-241. American Sociological Association. Web 31 October 2014.