The topic I am going to talk about is the association between drug addiction and street prostitution.
There is a strong relationship between substance abuse and prostitution. One third of women addicts support their habit by working as prostitutes. This is where the economic theory is linked; women prostitute themselves for money intended for the purpose of drugs. A Baltimore study of female street addicts found that 96% of the daily users resorted to not only prostitution but other crime to feed their addiction. As one prostitute stated, she would never get into a strangers car when she is sober, but when she is high, she will do anything for money for her next hit. She is currently incarcerated for putting a syringe to a taxi driver’s neck and telling him that if he didn’t give her his money, she would poke him with the AIDS infected needle.
The most common addiction among prostitutes is heroine and/or crack cocaine. The addiction can become so bad that prostitutes will even price according to one hit. The two most popular forms of these drugs are “rocks and flaps”. Rocks are crack cocaine, a drug that has already been cooked with ammonia or baking soda and has been formed into a rock like shape. The rock is smoked, usually through a pipe or pop can. Flaps consist of a point of heroin or cocaine in a powder form. The powder is then injected through a needle, snorted or smoked. The price for a flap or a rock starts from ten dollars in the downtown east side area. According to a few prostitutes who work in the downtown eastside, state that the average price for a trick is usually $20-40 but some have even gone as low as $5 because they want a quick fix. According to one prostitute she usually needs ten flaps a day to feed her habit and another one needs up to 16. The addictive qualities of crack can be such that some call it the “new pimp”.
Another theory associated with prostitution and drugs is the Enslavement Theory by Paul Goldstein. The enslavement hypothesis claims that drug users can be so empowered by drugs as to become permanently addicted after one or two exposures. Goldstein’s theory stated that among lower class prostitutes, addiction to heroin often preceded prostitution and that prostitution became the means by which women met the economic necessities to feed their addictions.
The opposite of Enslavement theory is when women become prostitutes first and then begin their addiction to drugs. It is said that heroin use helps a prostitute adjust to the life she resents. Heroin also increases her ability to withstand emotional and physical stress.
Cocaine and other stimulants have been reported to increase confidence of street walkers to solicit strangers on the street and the use of alcohol enhances sociability with customers.
There are many hazards for prostitutes who are addicted to drugs. Streetwalkers typically have the highest risk of exposure to the AIDS virus, call girls have the lowest. Intravenous drug using prostitutes and prostitutes who are convinced or paid extra by johns not to use condoms are also more likely to be infected with HIV. Prostitutes are also subject to a lot of violence. As one prostitute stated, every time she gets into a johns car, her life is at risk. Prostitutes get raped and beaten by their clients, pimps, and partners. They are also subject to serial killings. This has been a big issue in the downtown eastside where 63 women have gone missing. Robert Pickton is the main suspect and currently charged with 15 of these deaths. These 15 women all had the same characteristics; they were addicted to drugs, worked the street, and alienated from their families and without permanent homes. They were often bruised, scarred from beatings and their veins were laced with track marks. A prostitute that was once a visitor at Pickton’s pig farm, stated that Pickton would give her drugs for the exchange of sex with him, his brother, and maybe a friend. She stated that one time Pickton started strangling her until she became unconscious. When she woke up, she was found herself lying outside in the dirt where the pigs were located. She stated she heard that Pickton had a thing with strangling the girls and sometimes he would strangle them too long. Even though Pickton has not been found guilty of the murders she is certain he is guilty of a lot more than 15. One prostitute stated that she heard of Pickton and about women being killed at this farm, but she still went when Pickton picked her up because she was desperate for the free drugs.
It is clear that addiction to drugs make people do anything for there next hit. For many women, it is prostitution.