FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 1998202/307-0703

ONDCP - 202/395-6618


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- According to a just-released study, 16 percent of arrested crack users in San Diego reported living on the street before their arrest--the highest rate among six cities studied. Also, arrested crack users reported supply problems as the reason for not being able to get their drugs compared to cocaine users, who cited the lack of dealers. Heroin users reported problems with both availability and dealers.

Researchers studied drug use and purchase patterns among arrestees in six cities and concluded that drug markets have different characteristics both within and across cities, according to the report released by the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Within any given city, drug use and drug market participation varied substantially by the three drug types examined: crack, powder cocaine and heroin. In addition to San Diego, the other jurisdictions studied are Chicago, Manhattan, San Antonio, Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon.

"This study will now form part of the strong scientific base upon which we base drug policy," said ONDCP Director Barry R. McCaffrey. "The National Drug Control Strategy will only succeed in reducing drug abuse if all our programs are based upon research and science. This report hands a new tool to drug treatment providers and police officers--two of the professions which have to deal with drug abuse on a daily, front-line basis."

"These findings will help both law enforcement officials and drug treatment providers in San Diego plan their respective strategies," said NIJ Director Jeremy Travis. "This report demonstrates how collecting information about local patterns of drug use and sales can help any community plan for the best use of its resources and ultimately reduce drug use and drug-related crime."

Arrested crack users in the six cities studied were usually less likely to report using a single individual as a source than heroin and cocaine users. On average, crack users reported knowing more dealers from whom they could make purchases than did cocaine and heroin users. In all cities, most were likely to report using a main source who was of their own ethnic or racial background regardless of the drug sought.

With the exception of cocaine users, over 20 percent of arrested drug users reported public assistance as their primary source of income. Compared to the other cities, small numbers of arrested drug users in San Diego reported making a drug purchase in the week prior to arrest.

Key variables analyzed included: the proximity of drug purchases to the buyer's neighborhood; the buyer's relationship to the seller; the elapsed time, duration and frequency of purchases; the size and price of the drug transactions; how income is generated for drug purchases; the presence of firearms during drug transactions; the quantities of drugs typically used; the form of drug and mode of administration; and the frequency of drug use.

Data were collected between 1995 and 1996 from recently arrested crack cocaine, powder cocaine and heroin users.

Copies of the report are available on the Internet at, or from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) by calling toll-free, 1-800/851-3420.

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NIJ 98-046

After hours contact: James Phillips at 888/491-4487 (pager)