Substance Abuse Increasing in Inner-City Minorities


Substance abuse is an ever increasing epidemic facing America\'s inner-
city minorities. There are several different drugs that are gaining popularity
amongst inner-city youths 1. Juice, that is marijuana soaked in embalming fluid
is starting to show up in more and more inner east coast cities 2. Crack or rock
cocaine is by far one of the most addicting drugs out there, it\'s been engulfing
America\'s inner-cities since the early 80\'s 3. Heroin, is also making a comeback
4. Alcohol and marijuana are still very popular in the lower and upper classes 5.
There are some very distinctive differences in the substance abuse seen in the
less fortunate classes and the abuse in the middle and upper classes. The upper
classes drug of choose is powder cocaine. The less fortunate classes prefer rock
cocaine. Alcohol is popular in both classes but also in different forms. The
upper and middle class teenagers seem to want to experiment more with designer
or new age drugs. The reason that there is so much media hype about the drug
abuse amongst the poor is because the rich have the political power to cover it
up, the poor don\'t.
Crack is cocaine mixed with baking soda and cooked in to rock form 6.
Even though crack and cocaine are the same drug (just in different forms) the
courts give out stiffer sentences for crack offenders than powder cocaine
offenders 7. According to federal law if a person is caught with five grams of
crack they get a mandatory five year sentence 8. To get a five year sentence
for trafficking powder cocaine a person would have to be caught with 500 grams 9.
African-Americans account for 88.3 percent of all federal crack distributors 10.
This sentencing shows how the judicial system goes harder on black people for
drug violations than whites 11.
The upper and middle class teens do there far share of drugs 12.
Growing more and more popular amongst upper and middle class teenagers is a drug
called Ritilin 13. Ritilin, was designed to help children suffering for ADHD 14.
The teenagers get a hold of some Ritilin and mash it in to a powder and snort
it like cocaine 15. "It gives you the same feeling that cocaine does " say on
collage freshman 16. Another very poplar drug amongst the upper class teenagers
is nitris-oxide better known as laughing gas 17. Teenagers is fill a balloon
with the laughing gas and inhale 18. Laughing gas gives it\'s victims a ten
second high by denying the brain oxygen 19.
To get an accurate perceptive of substance abuse in an inner city
environment, I conducted an interview with T.J, an 18 year old black crack
addict from uptown Manhattan.

Here are some excerpts from our conversion.

Me: How did you start using drugs?

T.J: It started when I was about 11 smokin\' weed. After a while weed wasn\'t
getting me high enough. So I searched for a new thing then I found the big boy
(crack). My first time smokin\' crack, I bought a five dollar rock off this nigga
on 115th and Saint Nicks. I went back to my rest and smoked that shit up. I
loved the high. It took me to another planet and shit. The next day I went back
and bought a ten dollar rock and it hasn\'t stopped since.

Me: How long ago was that?

T.J: Three years, kid.

Me: What has your crack addiction done to your life?

T.J: What life? Crack is my life. My moms won\'t talk to me. My family, if they
see me they don\'t say shit. My only friend is my pipe. I done stole shit from my
moms, my boys and just almost anybody I come across. If I don\'t get my shit for
a while I start shaking. It\'s like food for me. I need it to survive.

Me: Did you finish high school?

T.J: Naw kid, like five months after I hit the pipe I dropped out.

Me: What are you trying to do about you problem?

T.J: Well right now I\'m in Detox. I\'m trying to get my life back on track. It\'s
mad hard though.

To get the middle class version of drug abuse I interviewed Molly, a white 19
year old student at the University of New Mexico.

Me: How did you start using drugs?

Molly: Well, I started drinking alcohol at 15. I loved the feeling I got for
being drunk. Then I tried pot at my friend\'s party. This is twice as good as
beer,