The Effect of Crack Cocaine on Girls
Female crack addicts suffer many more serious social consequences from drug use than men. Both, social policies and drug addiction treatment options, generally have failed to address the specific needs of women. Female crack addicts are subjected to horrible conditions and are quickly forced into a lifestyle involving prostitution in crack houses because of their addiction and need to obtain drugs on a daily basis.
This inevitable descent leads most female addicts into social isolation due to negative stereotypes and stigmatization, resulting from their failure to live up to expected cultural roles demanded of women. Research on the relationship between criminal behavior and drugs shows how crack use causes extensive criminal behavior.
Case studies and interviews with addicts show that crack degrades women tremendously. It is estimated that a higher percentage of women are addicted to crack than men. Crack quickly becomes a very expensive daily habit. Many female addicts spend between $400 to $600 a day on crack. Binges can last for several days and physical appearance shows constant neglect, similar to that of heroin addicts. Crack becomes their entire life. They neglect food, because they spend every penny on drugs. They neglect their bodies, their clothes, hygiene and their family. Many female crack addicts have children, and they end up being neglected, abused or exposed to the sleazy world of drugs and crime. Children are used as sources for obtaining crack and many have turned their own children on to crack or have their daughters engage in prostitution to obtain crack.
In crack houses, female addicts are subjected to the constant degradation and abuse. It can be a place to use drugs, sell or both, or a place to manufacture and package crack. Many are secured with neighborhood look-outs to give early warning of a police raid. Typically there is an area for cooking crack, one for using crack, and one for sexual activity. These houses are often run by owners (usually men) to support their own crack habit and are usually filthy and crowded.
Most female addicts end up providing sexual services to get crack. In these crack houses, the exchange of sex for drugs is a central activity. It is a form of prostitution and involves the same risk involved in regular street prostitution, like physical violence, sexual abuse, rape, sexually transmitted diseases, and arrest.
Users typically smoke crack for as long as they have crack or have the means to obtain it. Due to the rates of divorce, separation, lack of support, and children to take care of, many female crack addicts eventually turn to prostitution to pay for their drug habit and living expenses. However, by doing this, prostitution and crack house sex gives women a lower than low status in society, not only in conventional society but also among males involved in the drug and street life.
For many female crack addicts, trading sex for crack in crack houses becomes the only means of survival in a highly dangerous environment. The connection between addiction and prostitution is extremely high, as there is usually no other way for a woman to make that much money that quickly. It is not uncommon for a female crack addict to have sex with as many as 15 to 20 men per day, for as little as $10 or even just a single hit of crack. Drug abuse can lead to prostitution and prostitution to drug abuse. Many female addicts drift in and out of both street and crack house prostitution. The women involved in these crack houses are often abused, mistreated, and treated like sex slaves by customers. The women are so consumed and controlled by their addiction that they have no choice but to tolerate this abuse in exchange for a place to live, free crack and perhaps food.
Female addicts use crack many times in one day, and in order to pay for their expensive habit are driven into a horrible lifestyle involving frequent, degrading sexual experiences. Both, street prostitution as well as crack house prostitution, expose these women to being victimized, and most of them are deeply traumatized by these experiences. Studies show that the majority of prostitutes suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, research shows that the rate of PTSD among prostitutes is higher than among Vietnam War veterans. Crack house prostitutes are subjected to frequent beatings, abuse, rape and have very little control over their bodies or the ability to negotiate how much of a drug and what type of sexual activity or how long the activity will last. Due to the constant need for crack and a place to stay these women have no choice but to engage in high frequency sex with numerous unknown partners, in public and private places within the house.
Street prostitutes seem to have some control over the bargaining, prices, and activities, whereas the crack house prostitute seemingly has no control over anything. They cannot bargain or negotiate deals, prices, or what type of sex is involved. And if they tried, it could result in serious physical harm, not only from customers but also from the crack house owners.
Solicitation is done only when the female addict in the crack house is in need of crack and it is usually conducted informally. There is usually no bargaining on prices drugs or sex, and as a result the women are not able to reject any offer. Because of the basic rules of sex for crack there is little negotiating, if she uses the drugs in the crack house she has automatically agreed to have sex with any person that visits the house. Unlike street prostitution, the payment, usually crack, occurs before, during and after the sexual service and the cost is usually much lower than what can be obtained on the street. However, since the exchange of sex for drugs is so popular in crack houses many owners will protect the women this is one reason why female addicts choose crack houses instead of street prostitution. Today, many prostitutes don’t have pimps and even frown on the prospect of giving money to someone else. However, crack house prostitutes give a percentage of their profits or drugs to the house owner.
Heroin addicts typically need a few doses a day because of the longer effects of the high and alcoholics can only consume so much before getting sick or passing out, but crack users use until the supply is gone. The short duration of the high causes the user to seek the drug many times a day and female addicts who are driven by their addiction stay awake for several days at a time.
Female addicts’ lives are chaotic and everything revolves and centers around seeking and smoking crack, even though some try to take care of responsibilities, like their children, they become secondary to crack. The majority of women in the studies exchanged sex for crack not for the sake of sensual pleasures but as the only way for them to obtain crack, so another concern is the likelihood of AIDS and HIV among these women. Although the spread of HIV is typically associated with IV drug use, the amount of sexual activities with numerous drug addicts puts crack addicts at a higher risk for getting the disease as well. And recent studies suggest that oral sores from the heat and jagged edges of the crack pipe may contribute to the spread of HIV.
There are few differences between suburban women with drinking problems and female crack addicts in the inner city. Both have similar motives for taking drugs. The only difference is that crack addicts have more severe problems and a lower social status. Women suffer psychological, social and cultural stigmatization when they become addicted to drugs.
Crack use by women usually results in social isolation and feelings of shame, depression and hopelessness that create a vicious cycle. They end up using drugs to numb the feelings that are caused by their drug use.
Many female addicts are faced with having their children taken away from them. Most female crack addicts cannot take care of themselves let alone their children. Their lifestyle can definitely be harmful to their children many have neglected and caused their own children to become addicted to crack and involved in the same crack life they are/were involved in. Drug abuse by women tends to cause more problems for the family than male addicts it can destroy the whole family and children seem to be more negatively affected. Studies have shown that it can produce a trend of drug abuse from generation-to-generation. The support from friends and families also tends to be less for females than for males.
A study of 100 crack users in treatment found that 50% more women than men reported no one would provide support. Female drug users tend to come from families with severe problems like violence, abuse, drug abuse and mental illness, and women tend to get started using drugs by being introduced to it by boyfriends or husbands. Women tend to use drugs for self-medication purposes, a way of coping with traumatic events in their past and present lives.
Pregnancy complications arise because of drug use for women. Children born to female addicts, known as crack babies, have many more emotional, physical and psychological problems. One of the reasons crack may be so addictive is that it makes the person escape from their reality and since most female users live in the inner city the issues of unemployment, welfare, violence, taking care of children by themselves, and even depression is so overwhelming that for users crack takes them away from all concerns and failures. They are able to focus and be successful at obtaining crack and the high is seen as the only thing they can achieve.
According to studies, by the time a women is using crack, she is likely to have used other drugs and has been involved in other criminal behavior before her crack addiction. Studies show that increased drug use could affect criminal behavior by making risky behavior psychologically easier. The fact that the use of crack causes compulsive use would eventually cause the women to engage in even more risky behavior. Increases in drug use have a negative social and psychological affect on individuals and will further their dedication to a street addicted lifestyle. The more involved one is in drugs and crime the greater participation in the drug scene. Because crime is seen as a way of obtaining drugs, the idea of convergence, which means street addicts and career criminals are the same people, is apparent by the increasing numbers of people arrested who test positive for drugs.
Women are likely to enter a drug rehab program designed by men and for men. Women need a broader range of treatment, than men, including childcare issues, medical, psychological, and support. Women are more likely to seek drug treatment because of social pressures, pregnancy and childcare issues but even though they may seek medical and counseling treatment those living in poverty areas often don’t know where to turn to get help. There are many barriers to treatment; scarce rehab programs, lack of finances, child related issues, lack of women oriented treatment services and appropriate referral networks, low self-esteem, sexism in treatment programs, lack of attention to specific needs of women, lack of job opportunities, assertiveness, unresolved psychiatric, and other emotional and psychological disorders.
Another issue is that of pregnant crack addicts and whether they should be treated as a public health problem or a criminal justice issue. Prosecutors believe the threat of criminal charges can deter women from using drugs, however, it can also deter them from receiving treatment because of the threat of charges and losing their children. Treatment interventions should be focused on getting women out of the crack houses, followed by long term residential treatment, AIDS education, and teaching them how to be empowered, assertive, sexually responsible, and increase self-esteem. Focusing on a demand reduction policy in response to social and psychological problems is more effective than supply reduction and instead of rehabilitation, which is a return to the previous life, the goal should be on habilitation, which focuses on building a positive self-image and socializing the women into a more productive and responsible life than what she had previously.
Check out these before and after pictures of drug users. Or visit this page for some drug addiction related humor.
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