Between the Lines
Chapter 6 Spread, dispersion and extent (part 1)
In this chapter we describe the spread, dispersion and extent of cocaine use in Rotterdam. The quantitative part of the questionnaire is used for this, consisting of information about respondents and nominees. Network analysis, two-level regression analysis and extent estimates have been applied.
6.1 Analysis of personal networks
We have already shown that cocaine use is widespread in Rotterdam. It occurs in all age groups, very different types of job categories and in various places. In this section we describe the distribution of cocaine use based on the number of named users provided by the respondents(1). First the results are discussed on the basis of the number of other users nominated by the respondents, then on the basis of the mutual knowledge of cocaine use and the degree to which people have cocaine contacts. Finally, the data is dealt with on the basis of obtaining cocaine.
Number of users nominated by respondents
As stated above, the respondents were asked to nominate other users. In order to avoid that the respondents would nominate people who they know either very well or very superficially, they were asked to place the users they knew into five pre-defined circuits. The degree to which a respondent nominates other users in the various circuits provides a picture of the spread of his relationships with other cocaine users. Moreover, the nominated users had to meet the pre-determined inclusion criteria (see chapter two). 95 of the 110 respondents nominated other users whom they classified as follows: 472 users in the entertainment circuit (38%), 209 users at workplace (17%), 310 users in the home circuit (25%), 70 users in the hobby/sports circuit (6%) and 169 users in the hard drug scene (14%). Table 6.1 gives an impression of the average number of nominated users per circuit. This also includes respondents according to the circuit in which they usually take cocaine(2). 38 of the 95 interviewed respondents were no longer using cocaine at the time of the interview. These have been placed in the circuit in which they used cocaine just before they stopped.
Average number of nominees per circuit (standard deviation between brackets) (3)
Taking the first row of table 6.1 as an example, we can say that the average circuit profile of the 34 respondents in the entertainment circuit is made up as follows. A respondent knows an average of six users from his own circuit, two users at his work, four users in the home circuit, one user in the hobby/sports circuit and one user in the hard drug scene. Thus, the respondent nominates mostly users from his own circuit and the home circuit. An initial overall look at table 6.1 shows that the respondents know users both within their own circuit and within other circuits. This is an indication of the open nature of cocaine use. Use is spread over all five circuits and there is a reasonable degree of contact between users in the different circuits. We see, furthermore, that the respondents from the entertainment circuit and the home circuit know roughly the same number of users in the five circuits (4). When we look at all five circuits, there is no significant difference for respondents from these two circuits concerning the nominating of users in the various circuits. If, however, we look at the average number of users in the entertainment circuit nominated by respondents from this circuit and the home circuit, it then appears that respondents in the home circuit nominate significantly fewer users in entertainment circuit than respondents who are also users in this circuit (4.1 and 6.0 users respectively) (5). What is striking is that respondents in the entertainment circuit name the same number of users in the home circuit. Apparently the home circuit is also important for respondents in the entertainment circuit while this is relatively less so the other way round as far as nominating contacts is concerned.
Users in the hard drug scene systematically nominate different numbers of users in the five circuits compared to respondents in the entertainment circuit and home circuit (6). Respondents in the hard drug scene mostly nominate users in the hard drug scene and to a lesser extent in the entertainment circuit and home circuit. From the number of users whom the respondents nominate in the five circuits it appears that as far as the relationship patterns are concerned (that is the distribution of cocaine using acquaintances over the various circuits) the cocaine users in Rotterdam can be divided into two groups: a circuit, comprising the entertainment circuit and the home circuit which will from now on be called 'entertainment + home circuit', and the hard drug scene. Further analysis of the number of users nominated per circuit indicates that both for respondents in the entertainment + home circuit as well as for respondents in the hard drug scene the number of nominees from the home circuit occupies a separate place (7). It appears that as far as respondents from both circuits are concerned, the number of other users nominated in the home circuit bears no relationship to the number of users in the entertainment circuit, at the workplace, in the hobby/sports circuit or in the hard drug scene (8). In other words: the size of the home circuit is not connected with the other circuits.
Cocaine contacts and mutual knowledge of cocaine use
The degree of significance of cocaine in relationships between respondents and nominees provides information on how people behave towards cocaine. In order to determine the significance of cocaine in the relationship between a respondent and a nominee, a scale has been drawn up based on the following idea. Each respondent nominates other users whom he knows are taking (have taken) cocaine. If a respondent says that the contact with the person he nominates was never in the context of cocaine, cocaine is not important in the relationship. If on the other hand, a respondent nominates someone whom he always meets in the context of cocaine and there is mutual knowledge of cocaine use, cocaine has a significant place in this relationship. Diagram 6.1 shows the different values of this scale and their significance (9).
Degree of 'significance of cocaine for a relationship'
From table 6.2 it appears that half of all the contacts nominated by the respondents, the contact is only occasionally in the context of cocaine and that the users know of the mutual use of cocaine (value 2). 799 of the total of 1,239 contacts (scale value 1 + 2 = 65%) never take place in the context of cocaine, nevertheless use is mutually known. Apparently the role of cocaine is not very significant for a large number of the nominated contacts. This is a further indication that use of cocaine within the sample population is of an open nature. People know about each other that they take cocaine but they meet mainly in situations unconnected with cocaine. A striking element in table 6.2 is that with half of the people nominated by the respondents who have stopped, the use of cocaine holds a (reasonably) significant place (scale value 3 + 4). This is too, because a number of respondents were interviewed in jail. These respondents were not taking cocaine at that moment. They are mainly from the hard drug scene where cocaine use is a significant feature of relationships (see chapter four and five).
Spread of values of the scale 'degree of significance of cocaine in a relationship'
Also investigated were the differences between the entertainment + home circuit and the hard drug circuit. A distinction was drawn between respondents who were taking cocaine at the time of the interview (table 6.3a) and those who had stopped (table 6.3b).
Average scale values for 'degree of significance' for respondents from entertainment + home circuit and hard drug scene (users)
Both tables 6.3a and 6.3b show that the degree of significance of cocaine in the contacts mentioned by respondents from the entertainment + home circuit is less than that for the hard drug circuit. It appears that the degree of importance of cocaine to respondents from the entertainment + home circuit in their contacts with the hard drug circuit is the least significant, while these contacts are the most significant ones for respondents from the hard drug circuit. A striking feature of table 6.3b is the very important role of cocaine in the relationships in the hard drug scene for ex-users from the entertainment + home circuit. This probably concerns users who in the heaviest period of use came into contact with the hard drug scene (see further chapter four).
Average scale values for 'degree of significance' for respondents from entertainment + home circuit and hard drug scene (ex-users)
It is thus clear that the respondents in the entertainment + home circuit and the hard drug scene differ not only in the number of contacts they are able to nominate in the five circuits, but also in the degree of importance of cocaine for these contacts. Tables 6.3a and 6.3b both show that there is little spread in the significance of cocaine for the respondents between contacts in the different circuits. Table 6.1, on the other hand, showed that for the number of users which people nominate there is a reasonable variation between the circuits. Apparently the importance of cocaine use in contacts in the different circuits is more evenly spread than the number of users the respondent knows.
The role procuring cocaine plays in a relationship
So far, we have been looking at the relationships of the respondents on the basis of the number of other users named by him in each circuit, the (lack of) knowledge of mutual use and the context in which people have met each other in the context of cocaine. For another description of the spread of cocaine in Rotterdam it is interesting to investigate the role procuring cocaine plays in the relationships. There are a number of ways in which procurement of cocaine can occur in a relationship. There could be a symmetric relationship: the respondent and the nominee purchase the cocaine in turn or together from a third person. There might be a one-sided procurement of cocaine (asymmetric relationship) which means that the respondent buys or obtains the cocaine from the nominee or vice versa. Finally, there is the possibility that a relationship exists which is unrelated to obtaining cocaine.
The frequency with which people meet in a context of cocaine and the manner in which cocaine is obtained in a relationship provide information on the extent to which the relationship is influenced by cocaine. If the contact is always, or usually, in the context of cocaine and if the respondent buys or obtains cocaine from the nominee or vice versa (asymmetric relationship), this relationship is to a large degree influenced by cocaine. If the contact always takes place in the context of cocaine but cocaine is obtained or bought in turn or jointly through a third person (symmetric relationship) the relationship is to a large extent influence by cocaine. This is however of a less instrumental nature since the relationship is symmetric.
Diagram 6.2 shows the different combinations of the scale 'extent to which a relationship is influenced by cocaine' (10). Every combination gets a value. Zero means that the relationship is not at all influenced by cocaine. Six means that the relationship is strongly influenced by the procurement of cocaine.
Scale of 'extent to which a relationship is influenced by cocaine'
In table 6.4 are given the scale values of 259 contacts and 63 respondents(11). It appears that nearly half the contacts (scale value 0 + 1 + 2 = 48%) of the last six months between the respondent and the nominee had nothing to do with the procurement of cocaine, regardless of whether they meet in the context of cocaine never, sometimes or always. Nevertheless, these people are aware of each other's cocaine usage. This is once again an indication of the open nature of cocaine use in the sample population. Nearly a quarter of the contacts occur occasionally in the context of cocaine, where the cocaine is jointly obtained from a third person or where the respondent and the nominee take turns to obtain it (scale value 3). More than one tenth of the contacts occur occasionally in the context of cocaine, just as in scale value 3. The difference is, however, that in these relationships the cocaine is supplied by one person (scale value 4).
Spread of scale of 'extent to which a relationship is influenced by cocaine'
Finally, one sixth of the contacts consists of contacts which always take place in the context of cocaine and in which cocaine is obtained either jointly through a third person or in turn (scale value 5) or in which one of the two supplies cocaine to the other (scale value 6).
With the help of a two-level regression analysis we made an exploratory search for the factors which have a major influence on the role of cocaine in the relationships(12). The reason for using a two-level regression analysis is that variables from two nested levels are included in the analysis: data of the respondent and data of the relationship between the respondent and the nominee are used. On the level of the respondent, the following factors appear to influence the role of cocaine in a relationship:
From the above regression coefficients (between brackets the standard error) it appears that the age of the respondents has a weakening effect on the role of cocaine in the relationships. This means that the relationships of older respondents are less in the context of cocaine than those of the younger respondents. Cocaine appears to play an important role in the relationships of respondents who have stated that they take cocaine mainly at work. This refers to four respondents who all work in pubs/cafes. The average scale value for relationships of these respondents is 3.7 (the overall average for all relationships is 2.2). Cocaine is also very important in the relationships of respondents who take cocaine mainly in the hard drug scene. The average scale value for the relationships of the respondents in the hard drug scene is 3.9.
On the level of relationships, the following factors appear to influence the role of cocaine in a relationship:
It appears that cocaine plays a minor role, as far as the procurement of cocaine is concerned, in the relationships of respondents and nominees in the hobby/sports circuit. The average scale value for these relationships is 2.1. The duration of cocaine use of the nominees has a reinforcing effect on the role of cocaine in the relationships. This means that to the extent that a nominee is using cocaine for a longer period, the role of cocaine in the relationships is more important than in the relationships in which the nominee has been using cocaine for a shorter period.
Furthermore, significant effects were found between characteristics of the respondents in interaction with characteristics of the relationships. These are:
When a respondent has followed tertiary education and he nominates someone in his work circuit, it appears that the role of cocaine in this relationships has little significance. The average scale value for these relationships is 1.6. It seems that in these work situations people know that the other is using cocaine but cocaine is a side issue in the relationship. In relationships in which a male respondent nominates a female user, the role of cocaine appears to be of minor importance.
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