The visibility of illicit drugs: Implications for community-based drug control strategies

L. Saxe, C. Kadushin, A. Beveridge, D. Livert, E. Tighe, D. Rindskopf, J. Ford, A. Brodsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Objectives. This study examined differences between the visibility of drugs and drug use in more than 2100 neighborhoods, challenging an assumption about drug use in poor, minority, and urban communities. Methods. A telephone survey assessed substance use and attitudes across 41 communities in an evaluation of a national community-based demand reduction program. Three waves of data were collected from more than 42 000 respondents. Results. Measures of neighborhood disadvantage, population density, and proportion of minority residents explained more than 57% of the variance between census tracts in visibility of drug sales but less than 10% of tract-to-tract variance in drug use. Visible drug sales were 6.3 times more likely to be reported in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods than in the least disadvantaged, while illicit drug use was only 1.3 times more likely. Conclusions. The most disadvantaged neighborhoods have the most visible drug problems, but drug use is nearly equally distributed across all communities. Thus, efforts to address drug-related problems in poorer areas need to take into account the broader drug market served by these neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1987-1994
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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