Crack cocaine users: ways in, ways down, but ways out?

Daniel Briggs (School of Law, University of East London)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Publication date: 18 October 2010


Despite over two decades of crack use in the UK, there is little UK‐focused research and little understanding of the social context of crack use and health‐related risks. This is of concern because research in the UK suggests that service provision for crack users is inadequate. Research also suggests that there are high attrition rates of crack users in drug support services. Based on data collected in 2004/2005, this paper will examine how crack cocaine users start using crack, what happens over time, and where they end up as a consequence ‐ the crack scene. Many become mistrustful because of the manipulative and violent interactions that take place in these spaces. This is not helped when crack users reflect on past mistakes, which only results in increased crack use. As practical and health issues become too problematic, ways out, too, become more difficult. In addition, many find it difficult to place trust in welfare and drug support services because of negative past experiences, and feel ashamed about past failures in treatment. Taken together, I will also show how this is not helped by the configuration of drug support services.



Briggs, D. (2010), "Crack cocaine users: ways in, ways down, but ways out?", Safer Communities, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 9-21.

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