Exploring Incidence and Variation of Crack Use Among Latino Immigrant Day Laborers in a Post-Disaster Context
Method: Utilizing a rapid assessment methodology, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 52 Latino male immigrant day laborers in New Orleans. Participants were recruited from day labor sites, were 18 years of age or older; self-identified as being from a Latin American country; self-reported use of illicit drugs during the past year; arrival in New Orleans post-Katrina; and living in the New Orleans area (at least 1 year). In-depth interviews were conducted in Spanish lasting 1–1.5 hrs. Analysis of the qualitative data consisted of defining the broad dimensions and specific variations distinguishing the patterns of crack use.
Results. Findings reveal that the prevalence of open air drug markets compounded by a post-disaster context has led to easy accessibility of crack thereby facilitating and maintaining patterns of crack use. Furthermore, a post-disaster context, social isolation, workers’ rights abuses, as well as violent victimization and theft were identified as contributing factors to drug initiation and periods of daily use.
Discussion. The emergence of crack use among this sub-group of Latino immigrant day laborers is particularly problematic from a public health perspective as this population tends to lack access to preventative and health care services. In addition, implications include this immigrant population’s potential to act as a ‘‘bridge for infection’’ in the spread of HIV and other blood borne pathogens. The unique contextual factors influencing drug use among this population may be used to inform effective public health and social service interventions with this population.