March 1966

The Narcotic Addict and "the Street"

Author Affiliations

From the US Public Health Service Hospital, Lexington, Ky.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;14(3):299-306. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730090075012

IT IS a striking feature of the drug addict that when he speaks of his home, neighborhood friends and acquaintances, he often employs the phrase, "the street," suggesting the priority of peer activities as opposed to family relationships. Although this manner of speech is not solely indigenous to the addict world and, in fact, finds expression in criminal subcultures and, perhaps, other lower socioeconomic groups, it can provide certain clues to the understanding of the addict and some of the obstacles to his effective rehabilitation. The purpose of this paper is to examine the psychological significance of the street to the addict patient and its bearing on treatment. Nearly all addicts, while hospitalized, speak with some urgency of "returning to the street" upon discharge. The realities of the street both as they actually exist and as they appear to him combine to affect posthospital adjustment.

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