Where Do Youth Get Their Drugs: A Comparison of Youth From Philadelphia, Toronto and Amsterdam

Lana D. Harrison, University of Delaware
Charles E. Freeman, University of Delaware
Rosalyn S. Sutherland, University of Delaware
Patricia G. Erickson, Centre for Addiction & Mental Health
Dirk Kork, University of Amsterdam

Most studies of youth drug use concern themselves with prevalence measures of drug use in the lifetime, past year and past month. Very little is actualloy known about where and how youth oftain the drugs they use. The authors have conducted an internationally comparative study that includes survey questions on the locations in which youth (ages 14-17) purchase drugs, how long it takes to get drugs, and whether they purchase drugs themselves or get them fron friends or relatives. The study includes questions on a rane of drugs from tobacco and alcohol, to cocaine and heroin, which are prohibited among the age group in each of the cities/countries represented. (One exception is that the legal age for purchase of tobacco in Amsterdam is 16.) The study includes representative samples of school students (n=800) and detained juveniles (n=200), and a convenience sample of 200 school dropouts. This paper compares the drug procurement practices of youth in the various samples within and across cities. It will examine these practices among novice users compared to drug dealers. Of particular interest will be differences in marijuana procurement, since it is available in 'coffeeshops' in Amsterdam--although the legal age to purchase is 18. We will focus on differences in procurement for the 'legal' drugs of tobacco and alcohol, where the age to purchase varies slightly across countries.

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Updated 05/20/2006