Injection Drug Users, Crack-Cocaine Users, and Human Service Utilization: An Exploratory Study

Document Type


Publication Date



The article describes the interaction of drug abusers with the social services system. Human services organizations are designed to help people move toward and maintain optimum levels of physical and psychosocial health. When the people needing assistance are injection drug users and crack-cocaine users, perhaps the most highly marginalized individuals in society, the ability of the system to deliver services is severely tested. In addition, because drug addiction is perceived and addressed in the U.S. primarily as a criminal justice problem rather than a social or public health problem, drug users' interactions with the human services system may be even more strained. Previous research on the use of social services by users of illegal drugs who are not undergoing treatment is virtually nonexistent. Although the heroin addicts in treatment experienced many more problems than the nonaddicted women in every life domain considered, they sought help from the human services system no more frequently than nonaddicts. Interestingly, African Americans, regardless of drug use status, were less likely to use social services and more likely to rely on informal support systems for problem resolution than white people.

Find in your library

Off-Campus WSU Users