Dear PoP – Crack Cocaine Use in the District Still A Problem

CRACK COCAINE, originally uploaded by renegordongallery.

“Dear PoP,

I live in a new condo building in Petworth. Before that, I’ve lived in group houses in Petworth and Columbia Heights since 2004, so I’m not unfamiliar with the neighborhood. As I was taking my bike from my apartment out the back door, I was surprised to see 2 people smoking crack… right in the doorway. They saw me, looked up then gave me a look of supreme annoyance, because I was obviously inconveniencing them. I didn’t really want to deal with them, so I just went back to my apartment, made sure my windows were locked, and went out the front door instead. Eventually the two wandered off. This surely isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone smoking crack in a semi-public place. I use to have a next door neighbor who would sit on back porch many a night and whip it out. It was pretty depressing to watch that persons life slowly fall apart over a long period and eventually the person ended up in jail. I’ve also watched someone in my own family deal with an addiction to meth over the years and so maybe I’m just desensitized to the whole tragic spiral and have become brainmush neutral to seeing junky behavior up close and personal. I guess this kind of neutrality is why I had no urge to call the cops…. at that time. But later, I thought, (as I’ve had this though before in my life) I don’t want to and refuse to live that close to junkies. Although, I also don’t like the idea of just literally throwing people in jail for an often fatal substance abuse problem.

I am wondering how your readers feel about crack use in the district? Are people less neutral than I am about it? Was crack use really about 10 times worse in the 80’s and 90’s like I always hear? What are some ideas?”

These are good questions. I’ve only seen some of the small baggies on the street but I’ve never seen anyone actually smoking crack. I’m very curious to hear what other folks have experienced. Do you see folks smoking crack in your neighborhoods? Is crack still a huge problem in the District?

65 Comment

  • Crack was so bad in the District around 1987-1989 that most of northwest east of 16th st was a war zone.


    I will admit that I was a sheltered college student and that all manner of street toughs probably scared me, but on the other hand I remember the homeless issue was so much worse than it is now, panhandling was so much worse that is is now, and rampant drug crime was everywhere. People were getting shot like CRAZY and not just in Southeast, but in Columbia Heights. I had a friend who bought a GORGEOUS Mt Pleasant home for $150k. I had another friend who rented an apartment on U St for $300 per month.

    All of the crack problems were gone in NW around… 1994.

  • Crack use in the district is still a huge problem, and its the cause of 90% of the quality of life issues in this city. You can find crack anywhere around here, anywhere. People selling, people smoking, people buying – and the police just let it happen. Its too much trouble for them to have to get out of thier cars. I’m tired of excuses, drugs create crime and rudeness and people should be arrested for using or selling. Its the one thing that is holding DC back from being a truely world class city with world class people

  • Have you suggested that they run for mayor?

  • Call the cops, who might not bother showing up anyway. Gets you into practice for when you actually do need to call the cops.

  • Take5,

    Drug abuse at these levels is a symptom of poverty, not the other way around. Folks need to get out of poverty, and DC and Maryland officials are holding them back. We need to throw these rotten Dems (it’s true, they’re ALL Democrats) out of office and start cutting the red tape (have you experienced the nightmare of getting licensed in DC if you aren’t buddy-buddy [campaign contributor] with your councilman?). Neighborhood entrepreneurship needs to be encouraged not through touchy-feely programs, but by slashing regulations (do you think these folks with MAYBE a GED have an easy time sifting through permitting applications?). Unfortunately, as long as the corrupt DC Democratic Party (especially because now all these rich “progressive” white kids will pull the lever for anyone with a D next to his name–thanks again for the racial solidarity, by the way) is pulling the strings, don’t expect any real change.

  • I agree with the original post, that it is in fact unusual to see people smoking crack in public these days. Discouraging it, however, it’s done whether through treatment or policing means that less crack will be used. And, less is better than more in this case, so go ahead and call the police.

  • so i don’t really have to worry about smoking weed publicly, i guess.

  • I was recently on jury service in a 1st degree murder case in which a middle-aged woman was murdered by her live-in boyfriend (convicted of 2nd degree murder). There were probably a dozen witnesses, every one of them an admitted (and obvious) crack-user. There was an actual question of fact in the trial as to how much crack each person had smoked in the night in question, which was supposed to be a celebration of the woman’s mother’s 80-somethingth birthday. It was awful. Total pathetic human wreckage. Apparently crack is still a life style for a whole lot of people, some of whom you might not be surprised to find out were employed elder-care workers in the district…

  • I probably see people smoking crack or heroin (well, something intravenous) in the alley behind my house in Columbia Heights every two weeks or so. Used to call the cops. They don’t seem very concerned. I imagine the arrested junkies would be back on the street in a matter of minutes anyway.

    I agree with Take5 that it’s still a big problem because of quality of life issues, but it is unlikely the problem will be changing anytime soon.

  • Hey Darin: Get your fu**ing head out of your a**. I don’t even know where to start.

  • Let them smoke crack and kill themselves. A little thing called natural selection will come into play, and problems in the gene pool will just naturally weed themselves out. Pardon the weed pun.

  • Good post, Darin.

  • I tend to agree with Darin insofar as crack use being caused by poverty and at least the DC government keeps a lot of people in poverty. It might be helpful to modify the section 8 housing program so that able bodied people who take the aid have incentives to get a job, have fewer children and get out of the section 8 housing. While I don’t really have anything against all Democrats everywhere, the DC government seems reluctant to punish criminals or throw able bodied people out of section 8 housing so few poor residents have any motivation to use the many programs that exist in DC to help the poor. It’s also hopelessly corrupt, so change seems unlikely in the near term.

  • Yes, I too have observed people openly using crack in the Petworth/Brightwood areas. In fact, I have watched people openly light up in the alley behind my house. Don’t worry about drug addicts being thrown in jail – the police do nothing. And that’s the problem. I’m from DC and have lived in DC or Maryland all my life. The problem with DC is that the police and government here has turned a blind-eye to the problem. There are plenty of drug users in Montgomery County, but very little of the violence and open use of drugs that we see in DC. Why? The Montgomery County police and elected officials simply DO NOT tolerate this kind of behavior. And the open use of drugs does impact other aspects of crime. When people start openly using drugs in public space, it sends the message to other would-be criminals that the laws aren’t enforced. This leads to more robberies, assaults, and theft. In addition, Montgomery County has directed resources to areas that make a difference – they combat the source of the supply rather than going after petty little dealers.

  • To make clear: I don’t have a problem with Democrats everywhere (or anywhere else specifically), just the idiots who run the DC Democratic Party. Anyone who’s lived here for more than 5 minutes knows how fucked up the local party is. And that’s how it’s been for as long as I can remember. I can’t believe some people “don’t know where to start” disputing that. It’s a fact. Pull YOUR head out of YOUR ass.

    Yeah we have a lot of “anti-poverty” “pro-business development” programs in DC, but

    1 – economic development is best fostered by allowing entrepreneurs do their thing, not through city bureaucrats
    2 – the programs are administered unfairly to people with political connections — as is the whole permitting/licensing process (which is controlled by DC Dems & cronies)

  • People choose to smoke crack. Poverty doesn’t make them do it. And certainly, the DC Government doesn’t make them do it either. (though I’m sure Marion Barry would join if invited.)

    Darin, slashing regulations won’t provide credit to people who want to start businesses. Once banks and investment firms decide to invest in the inner city, then there will be change. Until that time, regulations are necessary to keep people from being pillaged by big money.

  • Ward4Resident — “There are plenty of drug users in Montgomery County, but very little of the violence and open use of drugs that we see in DC. Why? The Montgomery County police and elected officials simply DO NOT tolerate this kind of behavior.”

    Yeah, that explains the difference in crime between Montgomery Co and DC. Yeah, right.

  • Darin – im not going to explain why, but you are SO wrong. i’m so infuriated by your post for reasons that only i will ever know.

  • Why would anyone want a drug addict thrown in jail? That does not solve the problem. They will still be a crack addict when they get out. If you are truly concerned for their health, then you should be pushing for treatment. I have been to DC Jail. I don’t know how that can lead to rehabilitation. Not to mention, there are drugs in DC Jail. I recently saw a lady smoking crack in the main Post Office downtown. Jail time is the last thing she needs.

    MoCo may not tolerate drug use. Maybe they throw the book at addicts. If so, that is truly sad. More likely, MoCo addicts likely retreat to their homes to do drugs. Remember, cocaine is a multi billion dollar business. It couldn’t be a multi billion business solely on the use of the homeless and poor in the inner city. The people in Bethesda, Potomac and other rich locales support the drug business.

  • Addiction is not a problem limited to poor people.

  • And another thing, crack doesn’t kill. Stop believing that hocus pocus. I have family members that have smoked it for the better part of 3 decades now. All are still living. Alcohol, their diet (hypertension, diabetes), and cigs have killed more of them than crack. I even have an uncle that smokes crack and has AIDS. He is healthy (for his background). On the flip side, I have an uncle that is dying now. He was able to kick the crack habit, but the alcohol addiction eventually killed him. One must remember that by the time crack is sold on a street corner, it is usually nothing more than baking soda and other LEGAL additives like B12, etc.

    Crack is most deadly if you steal it from a dealer or fail to pay him back.

    As a teen, I was once busted for possession of a small bag of crack. When the officer found it, he stated, “this ain’t nothing but baking soda.” Just goes to show you that even a guy like me from a stable family can be enticed by the lure of what seems like easy money.

  • I don’t think saying that people have free will and saying that poverty causes crack use and that the DC government maintains poverty are mutually exclusive. Poverty causes crack use because it creates incentives and situations that favor using crack. For example, poverty creates incentives for the poor to deal in contraband, since they don’t have much to lose if they are caught. Access to contraband, here drugs, gives many of the poor opportunities to use drugs and can create a culture in which use is “normal”. So, more of the poor freely choose to use crack because of the situation they are placed in and the access and incentives they have.

    The DC government sustains poverty by allowing poor people to have inexpensive shelter. This is fine, but it is also an opportunity for the government to create incentives for poor people to get out of poverty or at least avoid the worst conditions of poverty. The DC government doesn’t do a good enough job at this. (Some would argue they do nothing to motivate poor people to get out of poverty). So, arguably the DC government helps to keep people in poverty, despite everyone still having free will.

    This is all academic. I think most people in the District disagree with this analysis. I don’t expect any of this to change. So, if you like the way the District operates, you’re in luck. You probably have another 10-20 or more years like this. Even longer if you keep heading east away from gentrification.

  • I know this is naive and probably stupid of me, but in the very short time that I’ve lived here in Columbia Heights (5 months), I’ve seen numerous crack deals going down, people high on crack, people smoking crack and weed in public. That, compounded with the gun violence, the leering men that try to “talk to you on the streets”, the public spitting and urination, makes me feel very unsafe. I’m about to break the lease on my apartment because I don’t want to deal with this anymore. I know that moving essentially makes me part of the problem, but I just don’t care. For the amount I pay to rent, I can live among less obviously damaged individuals and feel a bit “safer”. Perhaps if I were a homeowner I’d claim some ownership over the neighborhood problems, but as a renter, I choose to walk away. Lame, I know, but I have my own problems to deal with, like finding a job and paying off my debts.

  • Why would anyone want a drug addict thrown in jail?

    Mandatory drug treatment? There are plenty of voluntary drug treatment programs in DC. There’s just zero motivation for crackheads to take them. Now, lock them up and make parole contingent on completing a drug treatment program…

  • Anybody who thinks that there is more coke in D.C. than Montgomery County is deluding themselves. Go to any shindig, party, bar, club, friend’s house, etc., out in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, etc., and you’ll see yuppie kids blowing smorgasbords of powder. At least in terms of obvious ubiquity, it’s far more prevalent than weed or any other substance.

  • yatrakarna,

    Poverty doesn’t force them, but it limits your options a lot. When there isn’t a job for you and you got nothing to do all day for months and months, see how it turns out for you. And banks will never lend because folks in the neighborhoods that need the most help don’t have a credit history. You can’t get 50 or 100k for nothing and we can’t expect that this will happen. You just can’t force banks to come into the neighborhoods that need it. And you’d need to get people in the neighborhoods to trust banks, and a lot of them don’t–period. A friend of mine who used to own a little corner store kept his cash in a big safe in the floor of his store. But you can start simplifying permitting and business regulations. You think Grahamzilla & co. know how to run a business better? All they do is hand property and permits over to wealthy connected developers and campaign donors.

  • why is darin wrong exactly?

  • I walked past two dudes snorting blow out of some handheld device right on the stoop of my apartment building in CHeights a few weeks ago. It couldn’t have been later than 7:00pm – there was still daylight.

  • My Friend lived on Crack Street (Girard St) back in the early 90s and it lived up to its name.

    Also I thought PCP was making the big comeback, I guess the classics never die. Isn’t the 80s in vogue again?

  • It’s funny that this comes up, as last night, while at my neighborhood convenience store, a very distressed lady comes in, puts a 22oz Smirnoff Ice on the counter, and, while trying to find out how much it is, proceeds to scratch some skin off her arm (ouch) and, subsequently pulls out her glass pipe and takes a hit. Right in the store. At the counter. Dude behind the counter just says, “Excuse me, miss, you have to do that outside.”

    That shi–stuff smells acrid.

  • CokePartyTonghtWooo,

    You might be right. But when you’ve got money, a house and a job, you’ve got something to lose if you get caught doing drugs. Not the same in DC. Folks have nothing to lose and I’m pretty sure abuse is a lot worse here, but maybe it’s just more out in the open.

  • Slightly off topic, but Time Magazine had a really interesting article about drug decriminalization in Portugal a few weeks back.,8599,1893946,00.html

  • Slightly off topic, but Time Magazine had a really interesting article about drug decriminalization in Portugal a few weeks back.,8599,1893946,00.html

  • I think the clear solution here is to give bank loans to crack addicts.

    Nate: “even a guy like me from a stable family can be enticed by the lure of what seems like easy money.” I apologize, but your family doesn’t SOUND that stable.

  • Personal responsibility and basic self-respect lead to financial success, not the other way around. Choosing to smoke crack is a failure of personal responsibility. People are poor or become poor because they are addicted to drugs, not addicted to drugs because they are poor. Plenty of people, even in this city, are born poor but manage to acquire the traits of personal responsibility and self-respect. They are often referred to as the “middle class.” Other major indicators of future financial success include literacy and not having babies as a teenager.

  • My nuclear family was very stable. Both of my parents are college grads. My mother is retired after 25 years on her job. Both of my grandmothers lived in the same home for 30+ years. My dad was a steady in my life. Paid my way through college. There was very little dysfunction in my home life.

    My uncles and cousins used drugs. In every case I have seen, crack does less damage on the body than their diet, alcohol, or cigs. I’m speaking from experience while others may be speaking from textbook. Locking someone up for using drugs is as backwards as it gets. What is driving him/her to use drugs ends up going unaddressed.

    I have seen families ravaged by drugs (alcohol/prescription drugs,cigs). I have yet to see jail rehab one addict.

  • # Derek Says:
    May 5th, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I walked past two dudes snorting blow out of some handheld device right on the stoop of my apartment building in CHeights a few weeks ago. It couldn’t have been later than 7:00pm – there was still daylight.

    Would it have made you feel better if they were eating McD’s or smoking a cigarette instead? Both kill more people than drugs. If they did not bother you, why do you care what they were doing to THEIR BODY? I just don’t get it.

  • darin- this city has been asking absolutely nothing of its business community for a long time, and guess what? it’s still one of the poorest, most unequal cities in the nation. growth is slowing down like it is everywhere else because the kind of growth this city had is unsustainable- there’s only so many high end retailers and condos that any one place can support. the business community should be little more far-sighted about issues like workforce development and quality work environments- ask the city to grow its own quality workforce and stop whining about how everything’s the city’s fault. the condo free for all and retailer bonanza is what’s destroying the dc economy, not graham or any other of your bogeymen.

  • Nate, I agree that diet, cigarette smoking, and drinking alcohol kill are just as bad if not worse than drug use, but there isn’t the same addiction involved, and you don’t have people robbing you, or killing you, so that they can go buy a Big Mac and large fries. If all addicts were passive and non-violent, then I wouldn’t care less what they do, but when they want to hassle me, or rob me (I’ve been robbed at gun-point twice – I don’t like having a gun put to the back of my head), then I want their destructive behavior stopped.

  • Matt,

    You’re right. They don’t ask, they take. The sort of development you talk about (condos and chains) exists in part because wealthy developers keep the campaign money flowing and our corrupt officials keep taking it (and the fact that the ANCs tend to be filled with “activist” jerks who wouldn’t know the first thing about running a business–but there are some that get it). Of course, you’re also right that DC has a LOT of problems not caused by the city government (the rest are caused by Congress–ha!), but they aren’t helping things. And the “business community” is not as united as you seem to think it is. If the city eased up on small businesses, we’d probably see a lot more of them.

  • Make that: “diet, cigarette smoking, and drinking alcohol are just as bad”

  • JB,
    do you really think a crack head robbed you? TWICE! If a crack head had access to a gun, they would sell it first! Scan the papers for days and most of the killings involving drugs are dealer on dealer or dealer on crackhead.

    Have you ever heard of young dealers “renting” cars from crackheads? At most, a crackhead will be caught stealing from CVS. There was a guy killed in G’town a couple of years ago by some kids. They robbed/slit his throat and went to Wendy’s or Mcd’s afterwards and used his debit card. Yet, noone attributed that murder to fast food addiction. Yet, if the same guys had went and bought weed or crack, we’d call this a drug crazed murder.

  • Nate: Fair enough.

    I agree that drugs kill less people than the list of things you mentioned, and I have plenty of alcohol addiction in my own family to prove how destructive it can be. Addicts or users shouldn’t be thrown in jail for use alone, and treatment has been proven to be much more effective at reducing social costs than incarceration. That said, the violence associated with the underground drug trade is a huge problem. Decriminalization is finally getting some respect as a *possible* solution to some of these problems.

    I don’t think we can blame business owners or poverty for crack addiction. While it’s true more poor individuals use drugs because they have less to lose, it is still a personal choice for them to take that risk, and some lose. It’s not our fault, but we should be thinking about creative solutions to problems that affect our communities.

  • darin- that’s good to hear, but unfortunately i don’t see too many businesses pressuring the city to invest more in its workforce. this city has one of the worst workforce development systems in the nation. there’s no community college and job training and adult education are a joke. instead of just asking the city to “get off our backs” it’d be better for everyone if businesses asked the city to join them in investing in the dc workforce.

  • I think the idea Darin is driving at is a better business climate may present people with a better set of options and may keep some people off crack. This is a valid idea, but I heavily doubt any legitimate business, at least at the entry level, will be as lucrative as selling dope. If you have problems with the safety and moral issues of selling dope, you’ll forego the extra money you’d make doing so and do something legal. If you don’t, then you probably won’t.

    Two possible solutions: (1) instilling better sense of morality and responsibility in our youth, (2) legalization. At this point, we may need both.

  • Nate, I didn’t specify “crack,” I mentioned “drugs.” Frankly, I was in no position to ask the criminals how they would be spending my money. People with drug addictions WILL rob people, or break into houses, to support their habits.
    Someone else mentioned that PCP-usage may be making a comeback – Those people will cut you!

  • srsly,
    Is it possible that poor people have innate traits that cause them to be poor and or addicted? Those traits could also be conducive to becoming a drug addict. I have known a lot of addicts. To blame it solely on poverty oversimplifies the issue. At the core, every addict has a family that is impacted by his/her drug addiction. To say that the poor have less to lose only focuses on the material possessions. The trauma done to a mother and the children of an addict gives addicts as much to lose as the richest person. In other words, there are many poor people that don’t do drugs. There must be something that separates the poor addicts from the poor non addicts.

    And JB, there have been more arguments and killings stemming from alcohol than any illicit drug. IN NYC and more recently here in DC, they sell cigs on the street like drugs. I am sure there are robberies for cigs. And where there are robberies, there are surely killings.

  • just before ‘cleanergate’ at 14 and U I went to pick up some of my clothes early in the morning. two guys were smoking crack while leaning against the door to the cleaners while it was open for business! one guy apologized profusely saying he didn’t realize it was open. I went inside and they moved a few feet and continued… the woman working inside was petrified of them.

  • What about all the functional crack heads? You know, the 9-5 ers out there who like to be “bad” come Friday but still can manage to pay the bills on Monday. If they go to jail there goes our white collar and blue collar labor force.

  • Darin – Crack use causes poverty not the other way around. I grew up on food stamps but didn’t do drugs, now I am well over the poverty line. Being poor does not cause someone to take drugs, being poor and unappreciative of a society that has put up infrastructure to help you out means you are a stain. Even the poorest of the poor in this country do not have it half as bad as in other countries where drug use is less obvious. Your clueless – CLUELESS to the problem, which doesn’t start with being poor.

  • It is not as easy as just locking someone up for drug use and throwing them in rehab. Many of the people you see smoking crack already have rap sheets and have been picked up by the police many times. What happens when they get picked up? They have to be processed and locked up where they are given a bed and a square for the night. They are usually let go the next day with only a ticket or a court summons that they rarely plan on paying or showing up for. Most of the time the police will not even ticket them because they know it will result in more work that will bog our court system down. Then you have a police and court system that spends its time on drug users rather than real criminals (and don’t come back with “drug users steal” because that is an entirely different thing than just being picked up for drug possession)

    Once the user is released he is obviously going to go back to what he knows and you will find him on your doorstep smoking crack within 48 hours because he is still addicted.

    Prison is not the answer for drug users. We need to relax the drug laws (for users) and spend that money fighting real crime (like dealers) and starting real rehabilitation programs.

    And btw…there is this awesome crack head lady on Park between 14th and 16th who calls herself the mayor. And all the time we lived over there it was usually the drunks who caused us more trouble than the crack heads.

    What we really need to do is rather than lock them up, just buy them a bus ticket to somewhere in Nevada or something, pin $100 to their collar, give them a big rock, and tell them to never come back. That way we don’t have to deal with this anymore. Things are so much easier when it is someone elses problem.

  • Take5 said:
    re:>Being poor does not cause someone to take drugs, being poor and
    re:>unappreciative of a society that has put up infrastructure to
    re:>help you out means you are a stain.

    That’s an oversimplification of the issues if ever there were one. I appreciate your humble beginnings as many of us had likely experienced, but there are way too many societal factors that cause poverty and drug abuse to be narrowed down to simply being “unappreciative”.

  • If they didn’t do so much crack, they wouldn’t be so poor. Then our problems would be solved. Seems pretty simple to me.

  • I agree with Darin. The DC Council is so left leaning when it comes to drugs and crime, people know they won’t get in trouble smoking crack in public.

  • But can’t we just have some dealer cut their crack with something that can kill you if too much is consumed. Think of the problems that would solve.

  • # Ferdelance Says:
    May 5th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I agree with Darin. The DC Council is so left leaning when it comes to drugs and crime, people know they won’t get in trouble smoking crack in public.
    What would you like to see happen to the crackheads? Hang them? Firing squad? Once a guy has disgraced his family, ruined his relationship with his kids and friends, I doubt any other punishment will even measure up to that loss. If you ever talk to any addict, they will tell you that it is the hurt they have inflicted on their family and friends that pains them. You get used to not having a car or nice cars. But the pain on your mother’s face never leaves you. You never get over it. I know. I have seen it firsthand…

    My uncle is dying from alcoholism. Heart has given out on him. He has 4 months to live. He was too sick to see his mother in the hospital. All he talks about is the hurt from disgracing his mother and not being there for his kids. The material possessions he lost are not even an afterthought.

  • What would you like to see happen to the crackheads? Hang them? Firing squad?

    Um, yes? Reduce the DC population by 50k worthless crack-addict deadbeats, enjoy cleaner, safer, more functional city.*

    * This example assumes that most city-government employees will be caught in the culling of the crack-addicted.

  • “Is it possible that poor people have innate traits that cause them to be poor and or addicted?”

    I’m not touching that.

  • Bear with me here…

    My sister once had a dog that was always eating its own poop. Whenever she let the dog out, it would find some poop and eat it. She fed it well, and took great care of it, but it just loved eating poop.
    So she took it to the vet and told him all about it. The vet offered to prescribe some oral medicine to the dog that would make its poop taste bad so the dog would stop eating it. To which my sister said, “Make his poop taste BAD?! Its poop! Isnt it supposed to taste bad already?!”

    So…as many people have stated above, crack is bad for you. Sure, the effects feel great for a little while, but in the long run, it harms the body and mind, and deteriorates health. Well, if thats what crack addicts want, there should be a comprehensive push to cut it with stuff that kills you faster!

    This will, of course, cause crack dealers to lose all their customers. But…if we have the double-pronged approach of encouraging entrepreneurship in the DC area (as some of you have stated, most probably bringing a smile to the ghost of Joseph Schumpeter) surely they would have the wits and cash to pursue another lucrative career.

    It would be the ultimate case study in creative destruction…

  • # srsly? Says:
    May 5th, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    “Is it possible that poor people have innate traits that cause them to be poor and or addicted?”

    I’m not touching that.
    And that is precisely the reason why we do not even come close to solving this problem. Too much political correctness. We can’t even come out and tell a teenager not to have a baby. We can’t tell parents not to have kids if they don’t want them. But then when they are here, all that is left is to react to the problem. At that point it is too late.

    Let’s assume that there is something innate in some people that put them at risk of using and becoming addicted to drugs. Wouldn’t that put us in a better position of addressing the problem before it got out of hand? But no, we rather hang them or send them to prison when they get to the point of thievery to support their habit. I do not want to pay taxes to feed/house a guy that chooses to smoke crack, meth, or weed.

  • Nate – Why did your family members who have smoked crack for recreation for 30 years, apparently without any negative health effects, start smoking it?

    Also, just curious, do they live in government subsidized housing paid for by your taxes or are they of the functional sort of crack users someone referred to earlier who pay their bills?

  • They were weak. Mentally. It wasn’t poverty. It wasn’t lack of family values. They were simply weak. The same ones that succumbed to crack all smoked cigarettes and had problems with alcohol. That indicates an addictive personality. But as I said, crack didn’t get them. It was usually the alcohol, cigarettes or diabetes that did it. Most will usually cycle on and off crack. Cigarettes and a bad diet remained a constant though. When ever they would go to the hospital, the first thing they would ask for is a cigarette and some unhealthy food. Then a drink of alcohol. Never crack.

    No, none of the people I mentioned lived in subsidized housing. Rent is so cheap in my home town. Not to mention there are enough vacant houses to just break in one and move in. Or uncles, cousins, girlfriends to shack up with. Some were functional. A couple of my uncles worked at the hospital for years until the effects of the alcohol made it impossible for them to work any longer. Crack on the street is mostly baking soda and other additives. I’m speaking from experience here. If crack heads are getting sick from smoking crack it likely isn’t cocaine in the crack that is killing them. It is the additives. Who knows what it is cut with once it hits the street.

    There was an article in the Economist recently about drugs. The sentiment was that the additives are causing health problems at a rate where we are going to have to consider if it is safer if people just get the unadulterated drug instead of a street mix.

  • From an article in the Economist:
    Times may at last be getting harder for cocaine-dealers. Shortly before Christmas, the wholesale price in Britain shot up to £40,000 per kilo, the highest in years. Better policing was one cause; another was the slump of sterling. European retailers’ margins have been chipped away. To protect their profits, dealers are diluting what they sell. A decade ago, average street-level purity was about 60%; police say it is now nearer 30%. “People think there is a lot of cocaine around, but two thirds of it isn’t cocaine at all,” says one SOCA officer.

    That would be fine if the remainder were talcum powder. But in the past few years dealers have turned to pharmaceutical cutting agents such as benzocaine, a topical anaesthetic, which mimic the effects of cocaine and may be more harmful. Dealers call such agents “magic” because of their effect on profits. “Grey traders”, who knowingly sell such chemicals to dealers, are starting to be convicted.

    Educating drug-takers about what is getting up their noses may lower demand. But cutting raises bigger questions for drug policy. “We may have to say at some stage that taking heavily adulterated cocaine is more physically harmful to the user than taking cocaine that’s less adulterated,” a senior SOCA official says. “That is not the case at the moment. But we’ve got to keep asking the question. I’m aware that the health equation could one day say: Stop trying to stop cocaine coming in.”

  • Nate:
    “And another thing, crack doesn’t kill…..Alcohol, their diet (hypertension, diabetes), and cigs have killed more of them than crack……
    Crack is most deadly if you steal it from a dealer or fail to pay him back.”

    I disagree. Crack DOES kill. I wouldn’t try to downplay it ONE BIT. Alcohol, diet, and cigarettes ALSO kill people. Not only does crack slowly deteriorate someone’s body (just like the above substances) since it is illegal, this adds even greater risk to ones life in terms of what they have to do to get it.

    And, as you have obviously experienced, having to be a family member of people who are addicted to crack or other addictive, potent, and drug-dealer controlled substances is like hell on earth.

    However, I totally agree with Nate on this:
    “do you really think a crack head robbed you? TWICE! If a crack head had access to a gun, they would sell it first!”

    I think it’s defintely rare crack addicts actually do anything this logistically challenging. I think what Nate is emphasizing here is that there is other motivations for violence… violence committed by complete sober (albeit bloodless or low self-confidence-having) people.

    And I really agree with srsly:

    “It’s not our fault, but we should be thinking about creative solutions to problems that affect our communities.”

  • Nate,

    I don’t think it’s politically incorrect to suggest that poor people have something different about their genetic makeup that makes them poor and addicted. I think it’s ridiculous. People are most likely poor because their parents were poor and their grandparents were poor and it is a difficult, though by no means impossible, cycle to break. They are addicted because drugs are more prevalent in poor communities and drugs are enjoyable. Poverty may be hereditary, but it’s not genetic, and to suggest that it’s due to “innate traits” is essentially eugenics.

    “Let’s assume that there is something innate in some people that put them at risk of using and becoming addicted to drugs.” Now that we know is true — that addiction can, in fact, be genetic. I just don’t understand what you’re suggesting we do with addicts.

    You want to know what separates the poor addicts from the poor non-addicts? Self control.

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