Crack-Cocaine Injection in the Heartland: An Ethnographic Perspective

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Crack cocaine is a fairly recent addition to the drug injector's pharmacopeia. This article presents an overview of crack injection in Dayton, Ohio, based on 16 in‐depth interviews and ethnographic observations conducted between April 1997 and May 1998. Nine white and seven black drug injectors participated; the mean age was 43.6. Fourteen of the 16 injectors had also smoked crack an average of 6.9 years; two had never smoked. Length of crack injection ranged from three months to 10 years (mean, 3.7 years), and nine people had injected heroin in the previous 30 days. Eight heroin injectors used crack to inject “speedball” (a mixture of heroin and cocaine). An equal amount of people preferred to dissolve crack for injection with vinegar or lemon juice. The article examines initiation to crack injection, methods of preparing crack for injection, the reasons people inject crack, and perceived health consequences.


An earlier version of this article was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 25, 1998.



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