This three year renewal project builds upon the success and findings emerging from the parent project (R01 DA021783) which focused upon illegal drug markets following Hurricane Katrina. This research endeavor is focused upon the processes by which drug markets are disrupted and changed by hurricanes. Illicit drug markets are tenaciously able to continue;how they reconstitute themselves is critical to understanding the persistence and continued operation of drug markets and related health risk behaviors. Research in years 1-3 reveals that the Katrina disaster resulted in more drug use and sales in New Orleans. A stages paradigm suggests that the loss of employment and critical societal institutions increased involvement in illicit drug selling and also increased drug-related violence in New Orleans. In year 3, pilot studies were conducted following Hurricane Gustav (disrupted New Orleans) and Ike (disrupted Galveston and Houston). Whether and how illegal drug markets were disrupted and reconstituted in Galveston remains a key unknown, especially whether the illegal drug markets worsen as they did in New Orleans. A systematic analysis of the impacts of these three disasters (Katrina, Gustav, and Ike) present the opportunity to examine and compare the impact upon the varied drug markets and compare stages of reformulation occurring in each community (Galveston, Houston, New Orleans).
The specific aims : A. (Comparison of disrupted drug markets) To analyze the stages of disruption to illicit drug markets and drug-related violence in Galveston as a comparison with illicit markets in New Orleans and Houston. B. (Reformulation of drug markets) To examine stages of changes as illicit drug markets are restored in the disaster cities (Galveston, New Orleans) and in Houston where many evacuees were relocated. The proposed research activities will be primarily qualitative in approach. Well trained ethnographers will conduct careful observations of illegal drug markets in the three cities and write descriptive field notes. Over the three year period (year 5-7), staff will complete in-depth interviews with 140 selected drug users and sellers, and conduct 50 focus groups with 250 participants active in different markets (heroin, crack, marijuana, others). In addition, 350 drug using/selling respondents will complete a survey protocol organized around their experiences during and following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The proposed research will provide important information which will help design public policy responses to illegal drug markets, especially during and following disasters. With ongoing global warming, future destructive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico are highly likely-these and other cities could be threatened. Information from these studies will enable authorities to develop appropriate counter measures to contain illegal markets during hurricanes and other disasters to help prevent their restoration in the following months and years.

Public Health Relevance

Illegal drug markets are rarely impacted by interdiction activities, routine policing, and impositions of serious penal sanctions upon individuals arrested. Global warming may contribute to disasters like hurricanes occurring--these events have a very wide impact on the entire population of a community, and severely disrupt illegal markets in many ways. Information from this project will enable authorities (public officials, police, and treatment) to develop appropriate activities and interventions to contain illegal drug markets and increased substance abuse and related health risk behaviors following disasters.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
Program Officer
Deeds, Bethany
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National Development & Research Institutes
New York
United States
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Dunlap, Eloise; Golub, Andrew (2011) Drug markets during the Katrina disaster. Disaster Prev Manag 20:251-265
Kotarba, Joseph A; Fackler, Jennifer; Johnson, Bruce D et al. (2010) The melding of drug markets in Houston after Katrina: dealer and user perspectives. Subst Use Misuse 45:1390-405
Dunlap, Eloise; Johnson, Bruce D; Kotarba, Joseph A et al. (2010) Macro-level social forces and micro-level consequences: poverty, alternate occupations, and drug dealing. J Ethn Subst Abuse 9:115-27
Johnson, Bruce D; Dunlap, Eloise; Benoit, Ellen (2010) Organizing "mountains of words" for data analysis, both qualitative and quantitative. Subst Use Misuse 45:648-70
Peltzer, Karl; Ramlagan, Shandir; Johnson, Bruce D et al. (2010) Illicit drug use and treatment in South Africa: a review. Subst Use Misuse 45:2221-43
Dunlap, Eloise; Johnson, Bruce D; Kotarba, Joseph A et al. (2009) Making connections: New Orleans Evacuees'experiences in obtaining drugs. J Psychoactive Drugs 41:219-26
Sabet, Kevin A; Johnson, Bruce D (2008) Marijuana Treatment Entries Did Not Decrease After Aggressive Arrest Policies Were Implemented in New York City. Justice Res Policy 10:39-59
Dunlap, Eloise; Johnson, Bruce D; Morse, Edward (2007) Illicit Drug Markets Among New Orleans Evacuees Before and Soon After Hurricane Katrina. J Drug Issues 37:981-1006