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Research on Crack

NCJ Number
Contemporary Drug Problems Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: (Spring 1990) Pages: 1-7
J Fagan
Date Published
7 pages
Research on crack use and addiction is recent, and unique methodological issues are surfacing.
When crack appeared in American cities in the mid-1980's, cocaine use in the United States had stabilized. Cocaine use among adolescents and young adults had even declined. Crack appeared to be primarily an urban phenomenon and coincided with growing poverty and social disorganization in inner cities. As with previous drug phenomena, policies were based on portrayals of the dangers of crack by the media and political leaders rather than on empirical evidence from the social and behavioral sciences. Recent research using census and official crime data from 171 cities shows that formal and informal social controls are influenced by social structural variables and, in turn, affect the rate of violence in urban areas. Another researcher concludes that increased violence after the emergence of crack reflects political-economic processes and the reciprocal relation between the flow of capital and its effects on social and economic relationships in the neighborhood. Other research indicates crack selling is a heterogeneous process that defies the stereotype of the young, violent drug seller who has accumulated wealth through extreme violence. With crack addiction, social factors play a prominent role, in addition to biological and personality factors. The dynamics of crack use in the urban context pose new challenges to researchers, particularly with regard to social and economic processes of crack use, the extensive role of women in crack, and crack's role in sexually transmitted disease. 13 references.