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Between the Lines
Chapter 4    The main characteristics (part 3)
4.5    Income, crime and cocaine trade
When dealing with the income of the respondents a distinction has been made between income which has been acquired legally, semi-legally or illegally. In this, the category 'legal' has been reserved for respondents who acquired their income exclusively in a legal way (wages, salaries or social benefits). When respondents (also) acquired an income by a job on the side or prostitution they have been categorized as semi-legal, when they (also) acquired income by criminal activities (such as offenses against property or drugs dealing) they have been put into the category 'illegal'. Figure 4.10 shows the types of income in the different period of use. Half of the respondents acquire their income during the first and the last period exclusively in a legal way, more than a quarter (28%) in an illegal way. In the period of the heaviest use the percentage of those with illegal income rises to 43%.
Figure 4.10
Income and period of use
Income and period of use
 
There seems to be a significant difference between men and women as far as the sort of income is concerned. Men are far more likely to acquire their income illegally than women, 47% versus 24% respectively. Furthermore, 14% of the women acquire income from prostitution (with men this form of income does not occur). About 40% of the respondents have only legal income: men 38% and women 43%. In chapter three, it has been shown that cocaine users who also use opiates are relatively more often employed in the sex industry and the criminal circuit. Opiate users and non-opiate users differ sharply as far as the manner of income is concerned (see table 4.5). During the different periods of drug use, opiate users acquire their income more often in an illegal way than non-opiate users. These latter respondents are more often doing a job on the side. It can be said of both groups that in the period of the heaviest use the percentage which acquires their income illegally rises: opiate users to 79% and non-opiate users to 25%.
Table 4.5
Income of opiate users (O) and non-opiate users (NO) in the different periods (in %)
First period Last period Heaviest period
NO O NO O NO O

legal 68 22 61 19 53 11
semi-legal
work on the side 20 3 28 17 21 5
prostitution 1 11 - 8 1 5
illegal 11 64 11 56 25 79

total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
n=74 n=36 n=74 n=36 n=74 n=36
 
   
As far as income and method of use is concerned it becomes clear that a majority of the respondents who base, inject and chase the dragon acquire their income in the period of heaviest use illegally, whereas this is the case with only one fifth of the sniffers(8). It is also noticeable that prostitutes, in particular, inject cocaine (see figure 4.11). There is little difference in type of income between opiate users and non-opiate users who base. Both groups acquire an illegal income in the period of heaviest use. Sniffing cocaine is less often accompanied by illegal income in the case of non-opiate users than with opiate users (59% versus 43% in the period of heaviest use)(9).
Figure 4.11
Income and method of use in the period of heaviest use
Income and method of use in the period of heaviest use
 
Almost half of the respondents (48%) are criminally active in the period of heaviest use. These percentages come out considerably lower for the first and last period of use, 35% and 29% respectively. Figure 4.12 shows that the sort of offence differs little between the three periods: the criminal activities consist mostly of acquisition crime and activities within drug dealing.
Figure 4.12
Most significant offences in the different periods
Income and method of use in the period of heaviest use
 
Violent crime or vandalism are only in a few cases the most significant criminal activity (10). It is striking that these criminal activities play a role mainly in the initial period of use(11).
There is little difference in criminal behaviour between men and women. Cocaine users who also use opiates, however, prove in all periods of use to be significantly more criminal than cocaine users who do not use heroine (see table 4.6). For both groups, criminal behaviour increases in the period of heaviest use. As far as the sort of offenses are concerned there has been no difference detected between opiate users and non-opiate users. Just as in the case of income and method of use there is also a clear connection between criminal behaviour and method of use. Respondents who base, inject or chase the dragon are more often criminally active than those who sniff, 89% versus 26% in the period of heaviest use(12). No difference has been detected between opiate users and non-opiate users employing the same method.
Table 4.6
Criminality in the different periods, for opiate users (O) and non-opiate users (NO) (in %).
First period Last period Heaviest period
NO O NO O NO O

criminal 19 69 15 57 31 83
not criminal 81 31 85 43 69 17

total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
n=74 n=35 n=74 n=35 n=74 n=36
 
Of the 110 respondents, one third (32%) is (has been) connected one way or another with the drug trade. This may vary between activities on a large scale to (re)selling small amounts of cocaine to good friends. Men are more often connected with the cocaine trade than women, 36% and 10% respectively. Quite striking is the fact that there seems to be no difference between opiate users and non-opiate users. However 41% of the non-opiate users exclusively sell small amounts of cocaine to good friends. This never occurs with the opiate users. The method of drug use also seems to be linked to involvement in cocaine dealing. About a quarter of the respondents who sniff, inject or chase the dragon are involved in cocaine dealing, compared to more than half (58%) of those who base.
The people from whom cocaine is most likely to be obtained are the house dealers who do not sell opiates (30%), followed by good friends (27%) and house dealers who next to cocaine also sell opiates (24%). One tenth (8%) of the respondents get their cocaine mainly in the entertainment circuit, also one tenth (11%) gets it directly on the market (for example the respondent is a dealer himself). There is a great difference between men and women. Women get their cocaine never or hardly ever in the entertainment circuit or directly on the market, but significantly more often than men from good friends (59% versus 21%). There is also a great difference between opiate and non-opiate users. Figure 4.13 shows that there appear to be two independent circuits. The most important suppliers for the non-opiate users are good friends or house dealers who do not sell opiates. For opiate users the suppliers are house dealers who also sell opiates. Only non-opiate users seem to make use of the supply on offer in the entertainment circuit. It is noticeable that they obtain cocaine more often directly from the market than do opiate users.
Figure 4.13
Most important circuit where cocaine is obtained, for opiate users and non-opiate users.
Most important circuit where cocaine is obtained, for opiate users and non-opiate users
 
Figure 4.14
Most important circuit where cocaine is obtained and the method of use in the period of heaviest use
Most important circuit where cocaine is obtained and the method of use in the period of heaviest use
 
Figure 4.14 shows that only sniffers buy cocaine in the entertainment circuit. Their important sources are in particular friends and house dealers who do not sell opiates. For respondents who inject, chase the dragon, and to a lesser degree for respondents who base, the house dealer who also sells opiates is the most important supplier. Relatively many basers get their cocaine directly from the market. This links to the fact that basers are more often connected with the cocaine trade than users who employ another method of use.
We can see from what has just been said that, except in the period of heaviest use, half of the respondents acquire their income exclusively legally and a quarter illegally (through criminal activity). In the period of heaviest use this latter percentage rises to 43%. Men are more likely than women to acquire their income illegally. The same goes for opiate users versus non-opiate users and non-sniffers versus sniffers. Nearly half the respondents are criminally active in the period of heaviest use. The criminal activities consist mainly of acquisition crime and drugs dealing. Violent crime and (group) vandalism prove to be of minor significance. Outside of the period of the heaviest use, a considerably smaller percentage of the respondents are criminally active. Here, too, opiate users are more likely to be criminally active than are non-opiate users and non-sniffers than sniffers. One third of the respondents is (has been) involved in cocaine dealing, men more often than women. Non-opiate users more often sell small amounts of cocaine to good friends. In general, respondents who base are more often involved in dealing than those who use different methods. As far as the procurement of cocaine is concerned we can identify two circuits: opiate users acquire cocaine more often from house dealers who also sell opiates, non-opiate users mainly from friends and house dealers who do not sell opiates. Only the sniffers use the supplies on offer in the entertainment circuit. Women obtain cocaine more often through friends than do men.
4.6    Problems and contacts with assistance
The interviews show that more than half (55%) of the respondents have had problems connected with the use of cocaine. This varies between feelings of hangover on the next morning to abscesses from injecting. One quarter of the respondents report serious problems connected with cocaine: they say they suffer from physical, psychological, relational and economical problems, or they call themselves cocaine addicts. As far as the other respondents are concerned, the majority report problems of psychological nature. There is no difference between men and women as far as the occurrence of problems is concerned or the nature of the problems. Opiate users, however, have more often problems caused by using cocaine than non-opiate users, 83% and 40% respectively. They are also more often addicted to cocaine than non-opiate users, 51% versus 11%.
Sniffers have far fewer problems with the cocaine use than respondents who base, inject or chase the dragon, 36% versus 92% in the period of the heaviest use(13). Furthermore, sniffers are less often addicted than the other respondents. On the other end, they more often cite psychological problems (see figure 4.15). There is no difference between opiate users and non-opiate users who use the same method as far as the occurrence of problems is concerned or the nature of the problems.
Figure 4.15
Types of problems and method of use in the period of heaviest use
Types of problems and method of use in the period of heaviest use
 
Figure 4.16 shows that the borderline for the occurrence of problems lies between weekly and monthly use. The borderline for serious problems (addiction) lies between daily and weekly use: of the respondents who use cocaine daily half (53%) are addicted as opposed to no respondent who uses cocaine weekly(14).
The idea is prevalent about cocaine that problems, especially addiction problems, occur only after a long period of use. It appears that the addiction aspect of cocaine corresponds in this respect more to alcohol addiction than to heroine addiction. However no (significant) connection has been found to exist between duration of use and the occurrence of problems. The same goes for duration of use and the sort of problems occurring. Only when a distinction is drawn between opiate users and non-opiate are significant differences noted. Against expectation, non-opiate users who use cocaine for less than five years have significantly more often problems than non-opiate users with a longer period of use. For non-opiate users, there is also a connection between the occurrence of problems and stopping with the use of cocaine: of those who have stopped, 79% report problems connected with the use, for those who were still using cocaine at the time of the interview this was only 27%. This points to the fact that a great part of the non-opiate users cease taking cocaine as soon as problems occur. For opiate users such a connection between the occurrence of problems and abstinence has not been recorded(15).
Figure 4.16
Problems and frequency of use in the period of heaviest use
Problems and frequency of use in the period of heaviest use
 
More than one third (38%) of the respondents has (had) contacts with drug assistance agencies (especially in the context of their cocaine use). Of those who said they had problems with using cocaine, almost two thirds (64%) has visited the assistance agencies. With respondents who experience physical, psychological, relational as well as economical problems, or who call themselves addicted, this percentage is 85%. Considering the greater amount of problems they encounter in their cocaine use, it is not surprising that opiate users (86%) have contact more often than non-opiate users (14%). For opiate users, the main part of the contacts is with agencies which distribute methadone (70%). This indicates that the help offered to them is often in the first instance directed towards the use of heroin. Of the ten non-opiate users who have (had) contacts with assistance agencies, three have had contacts with the CAD or the probation service, two with mental health services and another two with first-line health services.
From what we have just said it is clear that half of the respondents admit to problems with the use of cocaine. These problems vary between a hangover on the next day to strong feelings of craving. A quarter have serious problems: they can be considered cocaine addicts. As far as the occurrence of problems is concerned, the borderline lies between weekly and monthly use. The borderline for addiction lies between daily and weekly use. Opiate users are more likely to have problems and are more often addicted than non-opiate users. The same goes for sniffers versus non-sniffers. The occurrence of (addiction) problems generally independent of the duration of use was contrary to expectation. Non-opiate users with problems may even record a shorter period of use than those without problems. When problems occur, a great number of non-opiate users cease using cocaine. Of all respondents who indicate problems with the use of cocaine two thirds have (had) contacts with drug assistance agencies and 85% of those with addiction problems. Opiate users who have problems with the use of cocaine are often being helped within methadon programmes which are targeted on heroin problems. Half of the non-opiate users who are addicted and who have (had) contacts with drug assistance agencies have had these contracts only when in prison (CAD or probation service).
4.7    Connections between important variables
In the preceding sections the connections between characteristics of the users have been analyzed by studying the mutual connection between two variables each time. A number of variables prove to be connected with various other variables, for example the method of use and the frequency of use with, among others, criminal behaviour and the existence of problems. Further insight may be obtained by studying a number of variables in their total mutual connection. This may be done with the help of the method of log linear analysis (see also Wickens 1989). This method shows that there exist several interesting mutual connections of a number of the variables which will be presented in this section.
The intensity of use is made up of various, closely linked variables. These are: most important method of use (sniffing versus other methods), frequency and amount(16). The intensity of use, gender, and use or non-use of opiates are three variables which determine most other variables to a considerable extent. Of the different variables which indicate the intensity of use, the method of use, divided into sniffing versus other methods of use provides a good overview. When the method of use is included, the variables frequency and amount of use generally provide little additional explanation. The division sniffing versus non-sniffing will therefore be used below as a way of summarizing the intensity of use. 'Non-sniffing' will indicate in brief, that the main method of use in the period of the heaviest use is a method other than sniffing. Table 4.7 shows the connection between opiate use, gender and sniffing or non-sniffing on the one hand and criminal behaviour (in the period if heaviest use), involvement in cocaine dealing, existence of problems, addiction problems and contacts with the drug assistance agencies on the other.
Table 4.7
Cocaine users grouped according to opiate use, gender and sniffing/non-sniffing, followed by the total number of respondents. Of these the number of respondents: with criminal behaviour (Crim); involved in cocaine dealing (Deal); with cocaine related problems (Probl); with addiction problems (Addic); with contacts with drug assistence agencies (Ass).
Opiates Gender Sniffing Total Crim Deal Probl Addic Ass

Yes  Man - 23 22 8 21 13 21
+ 5 1 2 2 0 2
 Woman - 5 4 1 5 4 5
+ 1 1 1 1 1 1
No  Man - 8 7 5 7 5 6
+ 52 15 18 19 3 4
 Woman - 2 0 0 1 0 0
+ 12 1 0 3 0 0

 
Table 4.7 must be read as follows: there are 23 male opiate users who do not sniff (to be found in column Total). Of these 23 men, 22 are criminally active (column Crim); of these 23, eight are involved in trading (column Deal); of the 23, 13 have addiction problems (column Addic), etc. Table 4.7 shows the following:
  • Column Total: use of opiates goes together with non-sniffing; this link applies to both men and women.
  • Column Crim: men who do not sniff almost all are involved in criminal activities; for women who do not sniff this applies only to the opiate users among them.
  • Column Deal: of the men almost 40% are involved in cocaine dealing, of the women only 10%, this refers to only opiate-using women (20%).
  • Column Probl: problems have the same link with sniffing, opiate use and gender as criminal behaviour: men who do not sniff almost all have problems with the use of cocaine, for women who do not sniff this applies only to the opiate users among them.
  • Column Addic: non-opiate users are less often cocaine addicted than opiate users; 63% of the male non-opiate users who do not sniff are addicted, however.
  • Column Ass: of those who have problems with cocaine use almost all have contacts with drug assistance agencies, except women who do not use opiates, and most men who do not use opiates and who sniff. In total, more people are in contact with the assistance agencies than the total number who have addiction problems, especially the opiate users.
Of the largest group, men who mainly sniff and do not use opiates, a further subdivision according to frequency of use affords interesting findings (see table 4.8).
Table 4.8
Male respondents who do not use opiates and who mainly sniff; divided according to frequency (Freq) of cocaine use.
Opiates Gender Sniffing Freq* Total Crim Deal Probl Addic Addic

No Man + 1 17 8 11 12 3 4
2 19 6 4 7 0 0
3 16 1 3 0 0 0

* The categories of frequency are: 1. daily; 2. weekly; 3. less than weekly
Table 4.8 shows that within the group of male users who mainly sniff and do not use opiates there is a great dispersion as to frequency of use. In this group criminal behaviour, involvement in cocaine trade, existence of problems, and addiction problems are all strongly connected to the frequency of use. The group who uses less than daily and has problems has no contacts with assistance agencies. The frequency of use is of course strongly related to the amount of cocaine per month. The connection with the amount used is similar to the above mentioned link with frequency.
From what we just have said it is clear that the method of use (sniffing versus non-sniffing), use of opiates and gender are three strongly interrelated variables which determine strongly the following variables: criminal behaviour, involvement in the cocaine trade, problems with use, addiction problems and contacts with assistance agencies. By studying the three variables in their total interconnection, additional information has been obtained. For instance, almost all men who are not sniffing are criminally active and also have problems. Among non-sniffing women this is only the case with opiate users. When, apart from the method of use, one looks also at the frequency of use, it appears, that within the group of male users who mainly sniff and do not use opiates, the men who use daily are more criminally active, are more often involved in the drug trade, have more often (addiction) problems and have more contact with drug assistance agencies than men who use less than daily.
Notes
1. Almost three quarters (72%) of the non-opiate users who have stopped using cocaine have a duration of use shorter than five years, compared to 22% of the non-opiate users who still use cocaine.
2. In contrast to non-opiate users their duration of use is independent of whether they have stopped or not.
3. Half of the respondents, currently, or during the period of the last use, used only cocaine, half used apart from cocaine also other sorts of drugs, but no opiates.
4. As far as this is concerned there is little difference between opiate users and non-opiate users.
5. Among non-opiate users injecting does not occur and chasing the dragon is the most important method for only two respondents. There are, therefore, no differences to be seen between opiate and non-opiate users who inject or chase the dragon.
6. Some respondents did not actually use the calculated amount per month. In a number of cases the period of heaviest use lasted shorter than one month.
7. See note 5.
8. For the other periods of use too such a connection has been found.
9. See note 8.
10. The percentage of persons who in the period of heaviest use acquire illegal income (43%) more or less corresponds to the percentage who are criminally active in this period (48%). This can be explained from the fact that the most important criminal activities consist of acts which directly or indirectly generate income. Violent crime and vandalism prove to be less important than acquisition crime and drug dealing activities.
11. The respondents are younger in the first period. As is well known, a major part of criminal behaviour takes place in youth. When getting older, criminal behaviour ceases in many cases (see also Junger-Tas and Kruissink 1990).
12. See note 8.
13. See note 8.
14. The data concerning frequency of use concern the frequency in the period of heaviest use.
15. There is no connection between stopping the use of cocaine and the sort of the problems.
16. The calculations have been based on the method, the frequency and the amount of use in the period of the heaviest use.
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Table of Contents
Preface
Chapter 1    Introduction
Chapter 2    Methodology
Chapter 3    General impressions
Chapter 4    The main characteristics
Chapter 5    Typology
Chapter 6    Spread, dispersion and extent
Chapter 7    Conclusions and discussion
Summary
Literature
Appendix A    Glossary
Appendix B    Occupation classification
Appendix C    Patterns of use
 
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