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NCJ Number: 150250 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Measuring Heroin Availability: A Demonstration
Author(s): A M Rocheleau; M A R Kleiman
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 61
Sponsoring Agency: BOTEC Analysis Corporation
Cambridge, MA 02138
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Office of National Drug Control Policy
Washington, DC 20500
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America

BOTEC Analysis Corporation
103 Blanchard Avenue, 1st Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Ethnographic studies are reported that attempt to illustrate the lifestyle and community of heroin users and to demonstrate the feasibility of measuring the availability of heroin to street buyers.
Abstract: Heroin prices have declined significantly over the past few years, from an average of $2 per pure milligram between 1979 and 1988 to the current price of 90 cents per pure milligram. Lower prices make heroin more affordable for new users and thus threaten to expand the user base. Compared to cocaine, however, heroin appears to have fewer but more geographically concentrated retail sellers. In measuring the availability of heroin to street buyers, the effective price is important to consider. This price involves several factors: dollar price, likelihood of arrest or mugging during a transaction, uncertainty about drug quality, risk of overdose, and search time required to locate a willing seller. The search time factor may be a more effective quantitative measure of retail availability than existing measures of the heroin problem (Drug Use Forecasting System and Drug Abuse Warning Network). In the current project, interviews were used to measure search times for Boston area heroin users and observations were made of heroin dealing at certain Boston locations. Findings indicated that various factors influenced the ease or difficulty of purchasing heroin, such as time of day, day of week, weather, police presence, transportation mode, heroin quality and quantity, and dealer availability. Interviewees usually purchased heroin from one main source, but many had backup dealers if their main source was not available. Shooting heroin was the exclusive method of administration for most individuals. Respondents also reported using heroin in combination with other drugs, especially cocaine. Predominant methods of financing heroin use were larceny and public assistance. The average age of first heroin use was just under 19 years, and the duration of heroin use averaged 20 years. Mean search times ranged from 12 minutes to just over 2 hours. Factors affecting search times included personal characteristics, heroin use behavior, and user-dealer relationships. Appendixes contain supplemental information on heroin user characteristics and purchases. 33 references, 38 tables, and 2 figures
Main Term(s): Drug abuse
Index Term(s): Cocaine; Heroin; Massachusetts
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