A Changing Drug Market: The Impact on Patterns of Heroin Use

Avelardo Valdez, University of Houston
Alan Neaigus, N.D.R.I., Inc.
Alice Cepeda, University of Houston

This paper explores the changing drug market scence and its impact on heroin use patterns in a South Texas Mexican American urban community. This research is based on qualitative data gathered from a NIDA funded study examining 300 Mexican American non-injecting drug users in San Antonio, Texas. Selected contextual factors specific to Mexican Americans related to increased use of non-injecting heroin use and transitioning to injecting will be examined. This paper will focus on how distribution and retailing practices initiated by adult prison gangs made available powdered heroin as opposed to black tar. As well, discussed is how these practices changed the social perception of heroin use among non-heroin polydrug users. Findings reveal the importance ine xamining contextual variations in the risk of transitioning to injecting. This growth in NIUs in this community has serious consequences for controlling increases in IDU and the spread of HIV, and other blood born pathogens associated with injectors.

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Updated 05/20/2006