The Developmental Cycle of a Drug Epidemic: the Cocaine Smoking Epidemic of 1981-1991
Although Americans have experienced many drug epidemics, the majority of which have ended within ten years of onset, they nevertheless believed that the usc of smokable cocaine, which took the popular form of crack cocaine in 1984, would grow exponentialy throughout the 1990s tmless it was vigorously combated. However, in 1991 it appears that crack use is in decline even in the inner-city neighborhoods where it had been most entrenched, and that the decline is due more [0 natural controls than to the War on Drugs. The cyclical nature of drug epidemics. as well as their progression through regular stages, was again affmned. The cocaine-smoking epidemic of 1981-1991 (which included crack) afforded the opportunity to research it in its entirety. In this article, the advantages of recognizing the developmental cycles of drug epidemics arc outlined, the most important of which concerns lhc future. In the terminal stage of the developmental cycle of a drug epidemic, remaining abusers playa pivotal role. If humanely tteated, they may serve as deterrents to future drug use: frustrated in current drug use, however, yet insensitively treated by the wider society, they may author the next epidemic.