Crack Cocaine Users: High Society and Low Life in South London

Crack Cocaine Users: High Society and Low Life in South London

Crack Cocaine Users: High Society and Low Life in South London

Crack Cocaine Users: High Society and Low Life in South London

Synopsis

Crack cocaine users have significant health problems, and place a significant burden on social services, the criminal justice system and drug treatment agencies. Among policymakers, professionals and the wider section of society, they are the most poorly understood drug-using group and have the worst retention rate in prison drug programmes and community drug agencies.

This book is about their addictions and the realities of their lives. Based on ethnographic research (observation and interviewing) conducted in south London, it aims to highlight their day-to-day struggles as they attempt to survive in a violent and intimidating street drug scene while trying to make changes to their lives. The book unpacks the myths and stigma of their drug use, highlighting their fragile position in society in an effort to better understand them. With the help of several key characters, the book uses their words and experiences to take the reader on a journey through their crack addiction from a life in and out of crack houses, their experiences with law enforcement and welfare agencies to their life aspirations.

The findings have important policy implications, and are relevant and accessible to academics and students in the field of criminology, sociology, psychology, and research methods. The research is equally relevant for central and local government policymakers, and frontline healthcare and drug agency staff.

Excerpt

Obviously there are things that I don’t know what I’m talking about but if
you asked me something that I didn’t know I’d sit there and admit that I
didn’t know what to say. But on this sort of subject – crack cocaine – I do
know what I’m talking about and it’s something that I can stand up and get a
microphone and speak it because I really do want my voice to be heard. Do
you understand what I’m saying? I really do want people to understand what
this [crack cocaine] is all about. It’s not a fucking joke – put it that way. It’s
serious and I want people to realise. Do you know what I mean? [Gritting
his teeth] and it is time for these people [starts pointing at people around
the café] to understand that, as I said, it ain’t a joke. Ok you can say ‘Well,
they’re doing it themselves. It’s self-inflicted’, but at least you’ve got to give
them some sort of help because the help we’ve got now is all bollocks.

(Cuz)

Crack cocaine users (‘crack users’ hereafter) have significant health problems and place a major burden on health and social services, the criminal justice system and drug treatment agencies. They are responsible for significant levels of crime, have the worst retention rate in prison drug programmes and community drug agencies, and remain the most poorly understood drug-using group among uk policymakers and professionals, the media and wider society. This book is about crack use and the realities of users’ lives. It is based on ethnographic research – observation and interviewing – conducted over the course of 2004 and 2005 in one south London borough, which I refer to as ‘Rivertown’. It aims to highlight crack users’ day-to-day struggles as they try to survive in a violent and intimidating street drug scene while trying to take some steps toward making changes to their complex lifestyles. I write this book because this particular drug-using group is the most heavily stigmatised in the uk context.

The chapter that follows this gives you more about the structure of the book but, for now, I would like to try to put you, the reader, in the quagmire that is the . . .

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