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Anita Kalunta-Crumpton

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A Community Without a Drug Problem? Black Drug Use in Britain

Kalunta-Crumpton looks at the impact of drugs on the drug using black population. Through findings from a research study of black problem drug users — primarily heroin users — at a London drugs project in 2000/2001, the article presents the black community as a group who are also victimized by drugs, but whose experiences of drug victimization have often been undermined in the “war on drugs” rhetoric about drug trafficking. To date, the drug using circumstances of the black community have remained insignificant and unclear in studies of problem drug use in Britain. Existing major studies have generally aimed at measuring lifetime prevalence rates of drug use in its recreational pattern rather than engage in attempts to explore the actual harm caused by drug misuse on the users themselves. For example, evidence from national studies have shown that while black recreational drug use is either lower than white drug use or comparable to it, the use of crack cocaine is shown to be slightly higher for blacks than whites. Not only is research literature on black people and drug use very limited but also what exists have tended to accord primacy to the relationship between black people and crack cocaine use. Even so, what is yet to be clarified is the extent to which the use of crack cocaine and other addictive drugs affect the black drug using population at both national and local levels. This article prioritizes the place of heroin in the lives of black drug users principally because this aspect of black drug use is severely under-researched when compared to the extensive research literature on white heroin use. In doing so, it draws upon findings from a research study of black problem heroin users registered with a London drugs project with a view to describing the nature of the problems surrounding their drug use. The article engages in a literature review of how the notion of race is rendered visible and invisible in mainstream concerns about drugs.

black problem drug users, London, United Kingdom, heroin

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 31, Nos. 1-2 (2004): 200-216