Crack cocaine abuse and acquisition among impoverished African American women

Race, class and gender all shape the pattern of crack cocaine abuse among impoverished African American women. Race is a factor in this case because racial minorities generally live in areas where crack cocaine is more widely used and available than it is white neighborhoods. Gender is a factor because drug dealers tend to be men, and women in this scene often trade sexual favors for drugs or money for drugs. And also, class is a factor because middle to upper class women have more access to resources for socioeconomic/political and personal betterment than their working class and poor counterparts (Murphy and Rosenbaum, 1997). Poor, African American women who use crack cocaine tend to turn to prostitution to pay for their drug because of their geographical location, socioeconomic status or class, race and gender.

In places like the ‘ghetto’ or housing projects where impoverished racial minorities are disproportionally present, drugs like crack cocaine are often more accessible than a well-paying job or the education needed acquisition one. With fewer resources than middle or upper class people, poverty-stricken people are more likely to utilize illegitimate means to acquire drugs like crack cocaine (Murphy and Rosenbaum, 1997). According to the Surratt et al. (2004), sixty percent the sex workers in their study were African American, This combination of geographical location and socioeconomic status (or class) is a major factor in the use of sex work by African American women to acquire crack cocaine (and drugs like it).

In the study conducted by Surratt et al. (2004) it was found that among drug-involved, female sex workers in Miami, Florida 100 percent of them used prostitution as a major source of income, the frequent use of those funds was for drugs, and nearly seventy-five percent reported currently using (in the last thirty days) crack cocaine. Because women in the crack cocaine scene are frequently manipulated for sexual favors by men who tend to have more power than them physically and due to their control of the crack (Murphy and Rosenbaum, 1997), women are more likely than men to be using sex work to acquire crack.

Few resources or tools for personal or economic betterment combined with crack cocaine’s availability and the opportunity to trade sexual favors for its acquisition, leaves ‘underclass’ African American women who use crack cocaine are at a greater risk of using of prostitution to acquire drugs than white, male or upper class drug abusers.

By Bigot Vanquisher


Murphy, Sheigla B. and Marsh Rosenbaum. 1997. “Two Women Who Used Cocaine too much.” Pp. 98-111 in Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice, edited by C. Reinarman and H. G. Levine. University of California Press.

Surratt, Hilary L., James A. Inciardi, Steven P. Kurtz, and Marion C. Kiley. 2004. “Sex Work and Drug Use in a Subculture of Violence.” Pp. 43-59 in Crime and  Delinquency.

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  1. BV October 24, 2013

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