Young drug addicts and the drug scene


Adaptation to the drug scene
Identification and gratification functions
Drug subculture
Categories of individuals in the drug scene
The addict's personality and the drug scene
The quest for immediate satisfaction
The nature of relationships in the drug scene
Social withdrawal
The addict's perception of the drug scene
Efforts to leave the drug scene
Fragmented drug scene
Multiple drug addiction
Concluding remarks


Pages: 135 to 148
Creation Date: 1985/01/01

Young drug addicts and the drug scene *

R. LUCCHINI Professor at Fribourg University, Fribourg, Switzerland


The drug scene generally comprises the following four distinct categories of young people: neophytes, addicts who enjoy a high status vis-a-visother addicts, multiple drug addicts, and non-addicted drug dealers. It has its own evolution, hierarchy, structure and criteria of success and failure. The members are required to conform to the established criteria. The integration of the young addict into the drug scene is not voluntary in the real sense of the word, for he is caught between the culture that he rejects and the pseudo-culture of the drug scene. To be accepted into the drug scene, the neophyte must furnish proof of his reliability, which often includes certain forms of criminal activities. The addict who has achieved a position of importance in the drug world serves as a role model for behaviour to the neophyte. In a more advanced phase of addiction, the personality of the addict and the social functions of the drug scene are overwhelmed by the psychoactive effects of the drug, and this process results in the social withdrawal of the addict.

The life-style of addicts and the subculture they develop are largely influenced by the type of drug consumed. For example, it is possible to speak of a heroin subculture and a cocaine subculture. In time, every drug scene deteriorates so that it becomes fragmented into small groups, which is often caused by legal interventions or a massive influx of new addicts. The fragmentation of the drug scene is followed by an increase in multiple drug abuse, which often aggravates the medical and social problems of drug addicts.


The drug scene as referred to in this article, means the milieu from which illicit drugs are obtained, a milieuthat denies a certain stability from its peculiar social structure. It comprises four categories of young people neophytes, addicts who enjoy a high status vis-a-vistheir fellow addicts, multiple drug addicts and drug dealers - make up the drug scene. Simplistic interpretations of the relations the young addict maintains with the drug scene are often misleading. While the addict's principal concern is to obtain the daily dose of his drug, it would be wrong to view him as a purely passive consumer. A knowledge of the role he plays as a drug addict is not sufficient to portray his position in the drug scene. The addict, particularly in the early phase of addiction, does not fit the stereotyped image of an individual whose entire life is reduced to the purchasing and the mechanical consumption of a drug that will lead to his imprisonment, undermine his health and cause his death.

* This article is an abridged version of the original text in French.

Drug addiction, the drug scene, legal measures and social control all combine to impose severe constraints on the addict, to which he must adapt himself. To understand how the drug addict lives, consideration needs to be given to the way he behaves in his environment, including the family, school, hospital, the police, justice, prison and the drug scene. The addict's adaptation to the drug scene to a certain extent conditions his relations with others. In his search for an identity, the young addict generally avoids situations that might prove a challenge, though he is constantly brought face to face with his identity as a drug addict and deviant.

Adaptation to the drug scene

The young addict passes through a succession of phases as he learns to adapt himself to the drug scene. The learning and adaptation processes are influenced by the image the young addict had of drugs before he entered the drug scene. When the image turns out to have little in common with the situation the young addict actually encounters, the discovery inhibits his adaptation to the new situation, and, as a result, he often abandons the drug scene and gives up drug abuse.

Addicts must develop the new social skills they need for survival. Those who fail to develop such skills become marginal within the drug scene, which is itself already marginal vis-a-vissociety. The young addict then experiences a twofold constraint: that of the control apparatus of society at large and that of the drug scene itself. The drug scene has its own sense of success and failure and its own evaluation criteria. It is hierarchically structured; it has its own leaders, followers and outcasts. There is a social differentiation and a division of labour, which in some cases can be very elaborate ( [ 1] , pp. 319 - 321). The addicts who have succeeded in attaining a position of importance will do anything to retain it.

The image the public has of the drug addict is of an individual totally dependent on a drug, comparable to the derelict without any material or moral resources. This image realistically applies to the addict at the end of his career, when he is physically and psychically exhausted and vainly seeks in drugs a fleeting alleviation of his pain; it cannot accurately be applied to what might be called the early phase of the addict's career.

Identification and gratification functions

The social status that an addict attains within the drug scene is tied to two functions : identification and gratification. Through identification, the young addict can compare his self-perception with the role assigned to him by the group or its leaders; the addict perceives the role assigned to him as his personal identity. When identity conflicts arise, the young addict applies the rules of the drug scene, which help to stabilize his drug consumption for a certain period of time. For example, if heroin abuse is a predominant pattern in the drug scene, multiple drug abuse will be less common and most of the young addicts will remain faithful to heroin.

In addition to the pleasure derived from the psychoactive effects of drug consumption, the gratification function refers to the reward the addict enjoys if he conforms to the rules. For example, the young addict can count on some regularity and equity in the distribution of the drug and on some control of its quality. Legal intervention, as well as a massive influx of outside addicts, has a disruptive effect on the drug scene, resulting in a loss of its stability, coherence and social structures ; its organization and hierarchy become overturned, giving way to the anarchy of needs and scarcity of drug supply. At such times multiple drug abuse may take root, together with its repercussions, which usually make medical, law enforcement and social controls more difficult. The effects of the identification and gratification functions of the drug scene should be given attention in considering the prevention of the consequences of drug addiction. For example, the fragmentation of the drug scene in Zürich in 1983 was followed by a spectacular increase in the number of deaths by overdose; it is likely that this increase in drug-related deaths was due in part to the disappearance of habits of drug consumption practised within the drug scene.

Drug subculture

On the basis of the foregoing, it is possible to speak of a drug subculture that has its own system of social norms and rules governing the interaction of the addicts and requiring them to show a high degree of conformity. The conformity may differ according to the type of hierarchy and stratification that characterize different drug scenes, and, as a general rule, the greater the degree of hierarchy and stratification, the greater the degree of conformity required. There are also initiation rites that neophytes must undergo, which may involve committing a petty theft and displaying steady nerves in a dangerous situation. In many cases, such criminal behaviour is a source of deep satisfaction to the perpetrators, supplementing the pleasure produced by drug consumption. Criminality should be seen not only as a means of obtaining drugs, but also as a component in the hedonistic life-style of the addict. The statements by young addicts confirm the hedonistic concept of juvenile delinquency described elsewhere [ 2] .

Berger wrote that "To become a fixer means to adopt a highly complicated life-style" [ 3] . The illegality of the product requires considerable intellectual and social efforts on the part of the addict, and the search for the drug is a full-time activity. This activity is not exclusively determined by the need to obtain the drug for consumption, but is also a source of social gratification : an addict in possession of a certain quantity of drugs becomes a centre of attention and a focal point for requests, through which he gains a new identity which he may perceive as a reward unexperienced before. In this connection, some authors point out that drug addicts should be regarded as individuals who depend more on the life-style they maintain than on the drug itself [ 4] .

In his study of the drug scene in a large American city, Feldman pointed out the importance of social control in a hierarchically ordered scene ( [ 5] , pp. 122 - 123). The findings of Feldman's study cannot, however, be transposed to Switzerland, as the drug scene he studied was in a ghetto, which was the home of most of the drug addicts, who knew each other. That drug scene was the product of the symbiosis between the ghetto and the drug scene itself; it was less open to formal control by society than other drug scenes that lacked such a setting. The osmosis between the ghetto and the drug scene conferred on the latter a structural stability, which helped to avoid the status-related anxiety often found among drug addicts in cities without ghettos.

Other studies have cast light on the influence of a stable drug scene on the development of drug-dependent behaviour [ 6] , [ 7] . However, the stability of the drug scene is fragile, primarily because of the social mobility typical of the drug scene and of the way it recruits its members. When the drug scene is able to Control these two factors, its social structure remains stable. If it loses this ability, the drug scene is powerless to deal with the effects of migratory movements. Persons who do not belong arrive in search of drugs without becoming integrated into the drug scene. As soon as the number of newcomers is such that they can no longer be absorbed, the drug scene is fragmented into a number of subgroups. As a consequence new drugs may appear and multiple drug abuse may gradually replace the former habits of drug consumption.

Categories of individuals in the drug scene

As a general rule, the drug scene consists of four distinct categories of individuals to whom it would be hard to ascribe the attributes of a coherent subculture. These four categories are: neophytes, "high-status" heroin addicts, multiple drug addicts and non-drug-dependent dealers. According to Cohen, the dealers are the managers of the system; ". . . the dealer pulls the strings of life and death; he can even kill with complete impunity". Cohen compares the dealer to a slave trader, for each of them "is aware of his deaths, his suicides, his junkies and the often suspect origin of money paid him" [ 8] . The dealer manages or, better, determines access to drugs. As long as his sources do not dry up, he can easily replace one drug scene by another.

In the drug scene, social interactions are governed not only by norms but also by technical rules, such as the use of the syringe, forms of payment and the evaluation of drug quality. The addict does not voluntarily influence the machinery that enables the drug scene to function. His integration into the drug scene is involuntary, for he has no alternative. He becomes rootless in that he is caught between the culture that he rejects and the pseudo-culture of the drug scene. The young addict rejects his original culture, that of the adult and school world, for it is the source of his alienation. He knows that the adult world labels him as "delinquent" and "sick", while he feels himself to be neither of these. The drug scene lacks the psycho-social resources that would be necessary to bring about the socialization of the young people. Drugs drain way too much energy for anything to be left over with which to develop a social personality and, as a result, this leads to a complete marginalization of the addict.

The delinquent activities are often due to the need to avoid privation, but a certain amount of delinquency stems from the pleasure the young addict derives from it. The delinquent act is at the same time a means of obtaining drugs and a source of pleasure independent of drugs. This means that some addicts would have become delinquents even if they had not become part of the drug scene.

The classification of drug addicts according to the following diagram ( [ 9] , p. 164) may help to answer the question as to whether an addict should be regarded as a sick person or a criminal.

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The diagram may thus help to decide as to whether imprisonment or some other measure should be applied to a drug addict. If he is classified in quadrants l and 4, some measure other than imprisonment may be applied to him ; if, on the other hand, he falls into quadrants 2 and 3, he may be subject to a penalty involving the loss of liberty.

With respect to the four categories of individuals who make up the drug scene, this diagram can only be used if it is assumed that in the history of an addict there is a major psychopathological component. With the social and cultural deterioration of the scene, which is regularly observed, the psychopathological elements of drug addiction gain the upper hand and end up by characterizing the further history of the addicts.

The addict's personality and the drug scene

The illegal nature of the addict's activities is at the root of certain characteristics of the drug scene and its influence on the personality development of a drug addict. The drug scene itself assures the addict of the social invisibility he requires as an outlaw.

The drug scene, like drug dependence, is not a homogeneous phenomenon. It ranges from a structured situation of the type implanted in a protective setting to the totally fragmented situation where criminality, drug dependence and "dropping out" merge with each other. Between these two extremes there are intermediate situations.

The personality of drug addicts is marked by an inflexibility that makes it very difficult for them to assume new roles. There are two main reasons for this lack of flexibility. The first is the extreme fragility of the norms for the different roles the addict has learned to play in the drug scene. The second reason has to do with a very fragile relationship between the roles he has to play. The addict's personality thus fails to provide the support onto Which new roles could be implanted. This analysis is in keeping with what is known about the effects of heroin abuse on personality development. The intensity of the sensation that follows a heroin injection overwhelms the individual's psychic balance, and the repetition of these injections blocks his psychic development. In this way, as long as he continues to take the drug he will not attain a higher stage of psycho-social development.

The above-mentioned aspect of personality development is also a function of the social structure of the drug scene and of the gratification mechanisms it provides. When the norms of the social structure are very deficient, the drug scene will lack the stability to allow the individuals to be integrated into it. With respect to gratification, in the fragmented environment populated primarily by drug addicts at the end of their careers, there is only one form of gratification : the avoidance of the pain of privation. Strictly speaking, this is no longer gratification, for the consumption of the drug has become the only escape from the plunge into an existential void. The paradox in the case of a drug addict who has arrived at a final stage of dependence is that he is consuming a product which is both rare and necessary for the satisfaction of a need, but without deriving any gratification. The explanation may lie in the totally constraining effect of dependence on the individual. The search for the drug has become an absolute imperative - a question of life and death.

A large city offers the ecological and social substratum in which a drug scene can become implanted and last for a certain period of time, while retaining its functions. For this reason, the addict looks for a large city and tries to be accepted into a drug scene. Acceptance is not automatic, since the neophyte must provide certain guarantees. These are essentially guarantees of compliance with the norms governing the exchanges between the members of the drug scene : respect for the hierarchy, solvency, discretion with regard to the police and adult authority in general, and a willingness to help one's peers when needed. Thus, the neophyte must furnish proof of his reliability. It should be noted that this is true only of a drug scene which is hierarchically ordered and organized. The neophyte gradually increases his consumption and his degree of drug dependence. At the beginning of his career, the addict experiences an integration into the drug scene, the intensity of which depends on the state of his social and psychic personality characteristics, as well as on the nature of the new constraints which he must face. Still, it should not be overlooked that this process of integration is constantly mediated through the taking of drugs. The effects of a drug are not always the same, since they depend on the circumstances in which the drug is consumed, its purity and the personality of the user. As Kind has written, the injection gives rise to an intense feeling of well-being, which is expressed in the form of total inner passivity and tranquillity and also a breakdown of aggressive impulses. The latter should be regarded as one of the most pernicious effects among those produced by heroin injection. In the initial phases, the heroin addict gives the impression of someone who is well-balanced, insensitive to his surroundings and stoic [ 10] . All his social relationships are developed as a function of these effects, and it is extremely difficult to determine to what degree the addict may be internalizing the new behavioural models as compared with his previous personality. It would seem, however, that at the beginning of his career the socialization of the young addict who is not part of an integrated drug scene is limited to learning the role of the deviant. It can be concluded that the effects of the abuse of heroin and other drugs, such as amphetamines, raise major obstacles to socialization.

The quest for immediate satisfaction

The nature of the drug scene and its predominant utilitarian philosophy are particularly well suited to the quest for immediate satisfaction of the pleasure instinct. The short term takes precedence over the medium and long terms, a fact which excludes any project that extends beyond life's day-today routine. Even an addict who enjoys a high social status remains totally dependent on the drug scene. Meteoric rises and headlong falls are in the eyes of the addicts part of the evanescent character of their existence. The precariousness of the successful addict's status is one more argument in favour of the philosophy of "having it all now".

While the addict who has acquired prestige and raised his status above that of his peers may be admired, this does not mean that he is respected for it. He is used as a means of obtaining drugs and instances of allegiance are very rare. The drug addict neither knows how, nor is able, to invest his energies over the long term, and thus he cannot imagine lasting, co-operative relationships with postponed effects. Co-operation is limited to immediately attainable objectives. For the addict, one of the major advantages of being among the entourageof an individual of higher status in the drug scene is that this affords him some respite from the frantic search for drugs; occasionally a few crumbs will filter down to him.

In this way, the prestige of an addict is based on two Categories of individuals who populate the drug scene: neophytes and multiple drug addicts. For the neophyte the addict who has succeeded in the drug scene is living proof of the rapidity and the magnitude of the rewards that it is possible to glean without effort. He has before him a role model that supplants all the reference persons of the past. How great the contrast between the routine of school, apprenticeship, job and the adult world in general and the dazzling success promised by the drug scene ! Apart from the drug scene, where can one so quickly gain immediate happiness and fulfilment made possible by drugs and, at the same time, the enjoyment of objects which confer prestige and pleasure? A heroin addict having such prestige becomes a living model, a point of reference for the actions of the beginner.

The nature of relationships in the drug scene

The majority of drug addicts note the profoundly egoistic character of the drug scene, an egoism which is only in part attenuated by the instances of mutual assistance that may also occur. The addict claims that he is seeking particularly intense contacts with his partners, which he describes by the word "feeling". Feeling refers to a situation of interaction in which the partners are on the same wavelength. It refers to the quest for a state in which communication between individuals is perfectly synchronized. The more intense the feeling, the lesser the reliance of the communication process on words. It is the impression that the capacity of words to mean more than one thing is reduced. In fact, the way in which the drug scene develops is not exactly propitious to the emergence of the conditions necessary for this state of feeling to arise. The testimony of addicts makes this clear, and the contradictions in their remarks reveal their fundamental ambivalence towards the drug scene.

Despite these ambivalent and unpleasant episodes, addicts find in the drug scene a certain sense of security arising out of a situation in which everyone faces similar constraints, which each seeks to deal with using similar means. This sense of security is not the product of any meaningful friendships, which in fact drugs gradually destroy; it is the consequence of a state of conformity to the predominant modes of adjustment. Stealing, trickery and sometimes informing against others, are all part of the social interplay within the drug scene. Despite their verbal protestations, addicts do acknowledge conformity to these modes of adjustment. Every addict has resorted to them at one time or another.

It is the drug that mainly determines the relationships in the drug scene. Addicts indicate that there are helping relationships within the drug scene when drugs are abundantly available, but as soon as they became scarce these relationships give way to the kind of rivalries that leave no room for any mutual help. This alternation between the presence and absence of drugs determines the rhythm of life within the drug scene and the way it functions.

Many addicts claim that before they entered the drug scene, they thought of it as a realm of freedom, where everyone did as he pleased ; it was synonymous with peace, love and the absence of conventions. The mystery surrounding the drug scene helps to render its attractive vision. After the young addict joins the drug scene, he gradually becomes aware of its pseudo freedom and the constraints flowing from the drug scene itself and from the adult environment which stigmatizes and punishes it. However, young addicts claim to prefer this corrupted environment to other social settings because of the "atmosphere". The celebration and ritual of drug-taking combine to create what the addict calls the atmosphere. The duration and quality of this atmosphere depend on the way in which the degree of drug dependence of the persons involved develops. As this dependence deepens, the quality of the atmosphere worsens. The ability to Celebrate disappears and the rituals attending the taking of the drug are no longer linked to the cult that characterized the honeymoon period. The rites are reduced to the simple technique of drug-taking.

Social withdrawal

Whenever, in the triangular relationship consisting of the personality of the addict, the drug and the drug scene, the drug factor predominates over the other two, the addict will gradually begin to withdraw from his social surroundings. This process has been seen to apply to the abuse of opiates, amphetamines and to all combinations of psychoactive substances involving the massive use of medicines and alcohol. This social withdrawal begins when the functions of identification and gratification, which are linked to the drug scene, become less important than the purely psychoactive effects of the drug. At this point, the addict begins to develop an ideology providing a justification for the gratifying effects produced by the simple consumption of the drug. The drug becomes dissociated from the hierarchical structure of the drug scene and the attainment of a status to which this hierarchy would attach a certain prestige. This process of social withdrawal must be regarded as a turning point in the career of the addict. The nature of this transformation is still poorly understood. Addicts who resist social withdrawal have a greater chance of remaining in control of their consumption and avoiding the severe consequences of the addiction. For a young person to be able to discontinue drug use, he must gradually break away from the psychoactive functions of the drug and also get out of the drug scene.

From the point of view of treatment and social reintegration of the. young addict, a drug scene implanted in a neighbourhood environment facilitates social intervention. There is an identified population and defined area on Which to focus the countermeasures ; young addicts become accustomed to discipline in the purchase and use of the drug, and this discipline can then be redeemed in treatment. Finally, the drug scene provides a framework for social interactions which, at least for a time, prevents drug consumption from becoming the young person's sole concern.

The addict's perception of the drug scene

De Jong wrote : "The neophyte consumer feels little need to share his experiences with those around him . . . at this stage the illegal heroin itself need not occupy an important place in the consumer's day-to-day-life" [ 11] . As the level of his consumption increases, an addict is unable to do anything but to search for his drug [ 11] . The addict's assessments of the drug scene are influenced by his degree of dependence and the path he has followed in his addiction. When careers of addiction are just beginning, judgements tend to be positive, since the young addict's "honeymoon" with drugs conceals the negative aspects of the drug scene. As the degree of dependence increases, there is also an increase in the intensity of the need to compensate for the biochemical and psychic imbalances caused by the abuse of the drug, which cause the climate of the drug scene to deteriorate rapidly. At this point, the addict's judgement of the drug scene becomes negative, or positive and negative judgements alternate.

There is an evident ambivalence in the addict's relationships with the drug scene on which he depends totally and which breaks his egocentric individualism. Furthermore, each addict must deal with his own privation, which occurs at a time which is his own and not that of any other addict. For the majority of addicts, the fact that they are part of the drug scene gives them an identity which, even if it is a highly precarious one, enables them, for a time, to find a social context that does not reject them. When they are removed from the drug scene and they fail to replace it by an environment meaningful to them, they often feel deprived of their protective envelope. For an addict who is seeking an alternative to his condition, this is a crucial moment. Many relapses during the post-treatment phase can be ascribed to the addict's inability to acquire an identity compatible both with his status as a patient and with the social structure of his new environment. The relapse should always raise the question of the meaningfulness and significance of a given social re-integration service for the individual in his post-treatment phase. :

Efforts to leave the drug scene

It is interesting to note that the drug scene is highly intolerant of the addict who leaves it. Many efforts are made to bring back those seeking to cut the umbilical cord linking them to the drug scene. Addicts "tend to regard anyone who tries to get out as a false brother", and they do anything to encourage them to return to their former .ways [ 12] . This fierce determination to frustrate the efforts of individuals to give up drug abuse is probably due to the addict's rationalization, which allows him to justify his way of life and his drug use. The core of this rationalization Consists in saying that drugs are the only way of living without going mad and if this justification is not accepted the entire edifice collapses. An addict who leaves the drug scene poses a severe challenge to this rationalization. Under such pressure, the efforts to break away without the drug make the addicts feel extremely insecure ( [ 9] , pp. 60, 61).

Fragmented drug scene

It has already been pointed out that the drug scene, even when implanted in neighbourhood structures, is by its very nature a very fragile environment. Its functioning depends on factors over which the drug scene has no Control, including the availability, quality and price of drugs on the market, the actions of the police, and the penetration of the drug scene by outsiders. The fragmentation of the drug scene itself may therefore accelerate the social withdrawal of the addict. When this happens, the addict finds that he must make a choice for which he is not equipped. This often results in increased drug consumption and the rapid transformation of the role of the drug from being a means of addiction into an end of the addict's life.

When the drug scene breaks apart into small groups of addicts, these groups may be less exposed to the formal and informal control of society and are usually poor in utilizing social and cultural resources. These groups have little or no hierarchy, and social relationships within them are primarily determined by the individual's ability to get hold of drugs. Social life in these groups often amounts to no more than circumscribed contacts between individuals who club together to obtain drugs on more favourable terms. No loyality is required of individuals, who all feel vulnerable and incapable of any kind of commitment. The amorality of the social interaction prevails in these groups, and the only existing rules are those imposed by drug dealers, who keep others reeling between pleasure and privation ( [ 13] , p. 20).

Multiple drug addiction

The multiple drug addict, for whom there is no longer any valid model of behaviour, must find drugs at all costs, whatever the means. He is no longer in search of a normative reference point, as is the neophyte. His relationship with the addict who has drugs is strictly utilitarian and servile for not being mediated by any personal admiration, and this condition places him at the mercy of the one who has access to drugs [ 13] .

Research has demonstrated the close relationship between multiple drug addiction and the precariousness of social and individual norms in the drug scene [ 14] . The consumption of more than one drug is incompatible with the existence of stable rules of conduct in the drug scene. Multiple drug addiction destroys the conditions necessary for the identification and gratification functions. Multiple drug addicts can no longer interact "with important members of their social network and move toward an addicted identity", as they do in a stable structure of a drug scene in which they consume one drug only ( [ 5] , p. 125).

The individual detached from the drug scene who is addicted to more than one substance is unable to articulate his own identity as a drug dependent person, for this identity is influenced by institutions of legal control such as the police, court and medical authorities, who perceive the addict's identity as a deviant one [ 15] . Drugs are consumed with no symbolic and social elaboration of their effects, in which situation the multiple drug addict lacks the social resources and personal skills to assume the role as a drug-dependent person. He loses the ability to elaborate his own deviant behaviour symbolically and psychologically, and to use such behaviour as a means of defence from attacks of society reacting to what he does [ 16] . At this stage, the drug's only purpose is to fill a void which not only makes social interaction impossible, but even renders the very idea of such interaction intolerable. Incapable of assuming the slightest role, stripped of all identity, multiple drug addicts, in extreme cases, are unable to participate in the inherent dynamics of a social structure. Failing to see himself in the looks of others, the multiple drug addict feels, in a certain sense, non-existent, and he tries to get a sense of personal existence through the abuse of any available drugs.

Concluding remarks

The degree of forced integration of the addict within the drug scene depends on the extent to which his dependence on the drug has developed at a given time. The nature and the degree of dependence also influence the access to the drug. An unwritten law of the drug scene appears to regulate this accessibility not merely as a function of the addict's ability to pay but also of his dependence. The more dependent among the addicts are served first, even though the others may be able to pay for the drug. Persons not dependent on a daily drug ration have difficulties in obtaining their supply. Less visible within the drug scene, these consumers are not regarded as full members. The drug scene tends to reject persons who are not totally dependent on it [ 17] .

In time, all drug scenes deteriorate. The following words of an interviewed addict indicated how for him the decay of the drug scene was a momentous experience. "From one act of deceit to the next, from one let- down to the next, people became animals, in the worst sense of the word ; they became wolves, tearing each other apart with their eyes closed."

Studies have shown that the life-style of addicts and the existence of subcultures are largely influenced by the type of drug used ( [ 1] , p. 309). There is no doubt that for most of the drug addicts, subculture is an appropriate term. The highly elaborate hierarchy of certain drug scenes could not exist without the support of specific social norms and rules. Depending on the drug of choice, it would be possible to speak, for example, of a heroin subculture, an amphetamine subculture and a cocaine subculture. However, alternation in the abuse of a given drug and multiple drug abuse is very often found to limit the stability of consumption within the drug scenes.

The drug scene is characterized by instability in its social relationships and structure. The factors which exert the greatest influence on this instability are : the difficulty of obtaining a given drug ; the sudden increase in price and change in drug purity; intervention on the part of authorities ; the asynchronous evolution of individual states of dependence; the substitution of a certain drug for another ; and the increased mobility - the arrival of new and departure of old addicts.



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