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Hustling: Supporting A Heroin Habit PDF Print E-mail
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Books - Life with Heroin
Written by Allen Fields   

In the past, researchers have acknowledged the variety of activities of the heroin lifestyle, but they have tended to emphasize the more dramatic ways its users support their habit. Some researchers have portrayed the user as a member of an elite world of drug dealers (Sutter 1966) who conspicuously displays his wealth (Stephens and Levine 1971) and whose primary concern is with making his life a "gracious work of art" (Finestone 1964). This has contributed to the view of the heroin user as a skilled supercriminal who sustains himself primarily from one lucrative hustle. This perception is far from true for the majority of HLS respondents.

Although some regular heroin users are successful specialists, the majority art hardly members of a world of elite hustlers. Those who are specialized hustlers have usually developed their skills before they become drug dependent. Most of these inner-city heroin users have little money and often cannot raise the twenty or twenty-five dollars needed for their daily fix. They may specialize in one way of raising money, but these specialized hustles are only one of a number of methods used to support heroin habits. The truth is that today's heroin user and addict mostly scrounges around the streets in search of any opportunity that might help him maintain his habit. To him survival means that he must use a variety of ways to raise the money or obtain the drugs he needs.

This chapter examines the different ways that the HLS men support their heroin habits. The term "hustling" was introduced into the social sciences literature by Ned Polsky (1969) to characterize the activities of men who earned a living by betting on pool and billiard games. In the drug literature the term has been used to describe the unlawful activities that heroin addicts employ to raise money for drugs (Finestone 1964; Preble and Casey 1969; Nash 1972; Smith and Stephens 1976; Biernacki 1979). More recently Goldstein (1981) defined hustling as a dynamic process in which an addict achieves success (usually economic) through illegal activities that involve some degree of scheming or conning. Although hustling frequently involves illegal behaviors, many hustling activities are legal. Therefore, "hustling" is defined in this chapter as unconventional activities that are designed to produce economic and/or narcotic gain. By unconventional we mean that these activities are unorthodox when compared to the activities normally associated with a conventional nine-to-five job. Moreover, these activities may require the hustler to use guile, deceit, or coercion.

In order to raise money, the unemployed user must invest a significant part of each day planning, arranging, and participating in some hustling activity (Waldorf 1973; Goldstein 1981). Like everyone else, he must have enough money for basic needs—food, clothing, and rent. But the user's need for his fix is central to any understanding of the heroin lifestyle of the 1980s. But even when he has his fix, even when he relaxes and is not actively engaged in hustling, he is planning and thinking of ways to get money for his next meal, perhaps, and certainly for his next shot of heroin. This point is illustrated by Jimmy, 30, of Chicago, a long-term participant in "the life:"

When you relax, you can think. Do you understand what I'm trying to say? If you can relax you can think of how to make some more money. At night when you get high, you can think of how to get some money for the next day.

Some researchers have described different roles in the drug business (Preble and Casey 1969) and the range of hustles available to the addict (Goldstein 1981). Others have limited their descriptions to specific groups of hustlers (Maurer 1949; Iceberg Slim 1969; Polksy 1969; Agar 1973). The most common approach is to view behavior from a social-problems perspective, focusing attention on problems the heroin user does or does not pose for society (Gould 1974; Chambers 1974; Voss and Stephens 1973; Helmer 1977). Despite these different approaches, the literature provides only a superficial view of hustling and the lifestyle of the heroin user. Past research has failed to address crucial questions such as: How much variety is employed by hustlers? How competent are they? What is the level of return from hustling? How does legitimate work figure into the overall hustling patterns? What are some of the specific processes involved in hustling activities? Do all hustling activities have a negative impact upon society? How might hustling benefit some neighborhoods?

Our ethnographic approach allowed us to broach these questions. Polsky (1969) refers to it as an "approach from within." This chapter describes and discusses the hustling activities of heroin addicts from the point of view of the men studied, using terms and concepts that the hustlers themselves provide. This approach has a number of advantages over other studies. Chief among these is that we do not view users' activities from a social-problems perspective. We look at problems that society, events, and people create for the user as he seeks to satisfy his needs through hustling. This approach not only helps the reader view hustling from the heroin user's perspective, it also provides a better understanding of the level of crime committed and illuminates other functions that hustling serves.'

In this chapter, therefore, we will describe varieties of hustling activities and examine their unique problems. We will also consider the implications of these lifestyles on the image of the heroin user and his criminality, and on public policy, especially toward crime and treatment.

The Diversity of Hustles

Few people have firsthand knowledge of the way heroin users hustle. Rather, they construct images of them from movies such as The Hustler, Superfly, and The Mack. For the more esoteric reader, there are descriptions of the hustling activities of urban nomads and ghetto residents (Spradley 1970; Valentine 1978), the elaborate games of the confidence man (Maurer 1949), pool hustlers (Polsky 1969), and biographic sketches of the successful pimp (Iceberg Slim 1969). Finally, news coverage of major drug raids and the arrests of high-level drug dealers also shapes the image of the addict hustler. The media generally project the false image of a person who is a skilled criminal, sustaining a drug lifestyle solely on the basis of some single, specialized, lucrative hustling method.

Analysis of the HLS data suggests a far different image for the addict hustler. Diversity, the need to be flexible, rather than specialization in hustling is a requisite for survival. HLS men know there are far too many risks associated with a life of hustling for them to restrict their activities to one method. Any one of a number of problems can frustrate efforts to "score" (raise money) or, as one man puts it, "knock you off your main thing." Further, and contrary to popular belief, legitimate work as a source of income is cited by more persons in our sample than any type of illegal activity. Well over half of all HLS men said that they obtained money for heroin at least occasionally by legitimate work. Borrowing, as another legal way to get money, is reported by about half (52 percent) of all HLS men. Only about a third (31 percent) of the HLS men said they stole regularly. About one quarter said they sometimes conned women (which could be legal as well as illegal), sold drugs, or shoplifted. Finally, robbery was reported by only about a fifth (18 percent) of the men and burglary by only a tenth (10 percent).

So, most of the HLS men are not consummate drug sellers, skilled thieves, or burglars but rather are unskilled opportunists who face each day as it arrives and do whatever they can to "get over." They seldom begin the day with any money or even a wake-up supply of heroin. Generally, the first thing they do is explore whatever opportunities present themselves. All tend to live their lives day to day. There is seldom the luxury of a day without hustling, or enough money or heroin for a long weekend or a week's vacation. From descriptions of the details of a typical day it is apparent that most of the HLS men scuffle for whatever money or heroin they can get. They engage in mundane hustling activities that offer them little self-satisfaction and only small amounts of heroin.

The role of legitimate work was illustrated by Zulu, 33, a hustler from Chicago:

Whenever I can, I do legitimate work. I may help my father-in-law, ya know, he hauls junk. I may help my father-in-law work on his truck a half a day and I may make me fifty-five dollars. So, I don't have to do nothin' that day but ride around with him and pick up shit.

When asked about the different ways that he raises money for drugs, Mack, 24, from Philadelphia responded:

My main hustle is to buy me a half ounce, roll up about 100 joints out of it and sell them. But I have to hustle day by day. I do errands every day for people in the building. They pay me a dollar or two dollars to go to the store for them, stuff like that too. That's how I make my little bit of money.

No job, no matter how menial, is beyond the dignity of the regular heroin users. In fact, many of the HLS men spoke about the advantages of the legitimate hustle. Several men said that they felt better when they were not "beating somebody" or ripping someone off.

Family and friendship networks are another source of support for HLS men. The money that families and lovers supply is especially crucial among hustlers who achieve little success from regular hustling activities. This point is illustrated by Leroy, a 32-year-old shoplifter who lives in Washington, D.C.:

I started hustling about twelve o'clock. I had to wait all morning because twelve o'clock is the best time to go downtown. At twelve o'clock, things be moving, people be getting off for lunch and they be moving in the stores. It's the best time. But I didn't get anything. So, I went to see my mother to beg her for some money.

Borrowing and begging from relatives and lovers is a common practice among over half of HLS men. Acquiring money from family members often requires manipulation, as Black Charlie, a 30-year-old addict, confessed:

Sometimes I have to obtain money to buy stuff through manipulating people, you know, manipulating members of my family. You know what I mean, being deceitful, tricking them.

HLS men rarely borrow money from friends and associates because it is a commodity that is always in short supply among heroin users. They are more likely to borrow an item that can be used to raise the money needed. Larry, 26, of Chicago, explains:

I needed twenty dollars, right. So, I used this credit card, went and bought a few things, you know, two pair of pants and a shirt. It was a buddy's of mine. He lent it me. I don't know whose card it was, I don't know who he got it from. He lent it to me and I just got a few things to get over, to generate some money. I sold what I had bought, went back downtown and copped.

At other times, HLS men can arrange to get drugs on credit. Milt, a 20-year-old thief from New York City, points out:

Usually I can get a half a quarter on credit. The people I go to know I'm a steady customer. I'm always havin' the women's sweaters to sell or jeans to sell. So, like they know I'm good for something. I either bring them some money or merchandise that they can wear, and they know I can go downtown to the department store and most generally I come off [succeed] the majority of the time.

However, only a few HLS men can regularly exercise this option, because of the low level of trust between those buying and selling. George, 23, from D.C., a distrusting hustler, explains how skepticism becomes the standard for dealer-user relationships:

l don't trust too many people. I guess I got the attitude from selling stuff. Even my partners, I'm kinda shaky with them. I watch them very closely, 'cause I don't want them to try to beat me.

Finally, friendship networks provide a framework in which HLS men can share drugs when all other efforts fail. Tap, a 27-year-old chili pimp from Philadelphia, describes the importance of sharing drugs with associates:

If! have something, I'm gonna say, "Hey Al, me and you we're going to do this [heroin] together. This is my day." This way it keeps a lot of pressure off and you always have something to get high with in some way. Even when none of us have no money, I know somebody out there will give me some [dope]. That's the way it is man. If! get it or you get it, both of us are going to be over.

Although it can be said that sharing drugs with associates may be a way of showing others how successful one is at hustling, sharing is done for a more utilitarian reason. Little D, a 26-year-old user from New York, explains:

If I ain't got it, you've got it. You usually be sharing your drugs to make your ends meet. It takes the pressure off you from having to hustle. If you don't have nothing you can call up somebody you usually share with. "What you got man?" You know, I take what they got. They're moral like that. If I share, if they got something, they gonna let me have some.

Three-fourths of the HLS men also steal, many only occasionally, as another means of raising money for drugs. Most of this stealing takes place in their immediate neighborhoods, involving thefts from small stores, relatives, and friends. Favorite targets are the many mom-and-pop stores in inner-city neighborhoods. These stores seldom have the security devices found in large department stores; thus, this type of store is a prime target for the hustler. For example, Bill, a 22-year-old burglar from Chicago, points out the importance of this alternative source of money:

My main thing, I burglarize, I deal with pipe. Ya know, if you steal copper and brass pipe out of buildings and get caught, that's burglary. That's what I mainly do. I go out and look for my friend and we go looking for buildings that we can get pipe out of and sell. Yeah, we get pipe out of buildings ana take them to the junkman to sell. If we can't find no pipes and stuff, then we go boosting the stores. We go into the grocery stores around here and steal meat, coffee, cheese, and whatever we can get to make the money. Yeah, we mainly be running back and forth to the stores and looking for buildings that we can get pipe and stuff out of.

Main Hustles

Despite the wide range of hustles, heroin users generally favor an activity in which their knowledge, skills, and/or contacts make it easier for them to generate money. When asked "What is your main hustle?" about a third of these men said that it was stealing, which covers a variety of activities including shoplifting. Yet, very few HLS men reported burglary and fewer still said that picking pockets was their main hustle.

It is most interesting that legitimate work is cited as their main source of income by one out of every four HLS men. Of these, more than half (53 percent) said that they supported their habits exclusively with money earned from legal activities. As Ron, a 27-year-old government employee from Chicago, points out:

Contrary to what people think, there are a lot of dope fiends that work every day. Basically, uh, people have their conceptions that all junkies and drug addicts live through their diabolical wits, rippin' people off, which may be. But then there's those so-called isolated cases where people do work.

One major source of revenue for heroin users is the drug business itself (Goldstein 1981; Preble and Casey 1969). In fact, these users view drug-related activities as one of the better hustles (Waldorf 1973). Drug-related activities (primarily street-level dealing) as a common main hustle are mentioned by 19 percent of HLS respondents. Less frequently reported is "conning" (9 percent), generally requiring little sophistication, planning, or time. For example, several HLS men explained that they would buy heroin for someone at a reduced price and pocket the extra money. Others said that they simply kept the money given them by others to purchase drugs.

Conning women is another type of main hustle. An illustration of this was provided by Torre, 28, a heroin user from Washington, D.C.:

I run this little con game on my woman. I got to be sick, I be dying. Really that's just to get that money, you know. Cause she'll say, "Oh baby," she talk that shit. I be faking myself. I run in the bathroom and stick my finger down my throat, run back in there and try to throw up in front of her. Get down on my knees and pretend I'm in the cramps and shit like that. She got one of them ways she can go to the bank, push one of them little buttons and that money shoot up. Money come out the wall for me anytime.

When asked about the way he raises money to buy heroin, Little D, a dealer and pimp, described his woman's activities:

My woman hustles. She's a bona fide hustler; when she hustles, she hustles. Sometimes my woman go out and I don't have to do nothing. She give me r•fioney, yeah. She give me the money so I don't have to do nothing. I don't have to share it back with her. She goes out and gets money. I want you to know that that's the way [to get money for drugs] 'cause the money is given to me. I don't consider it to be like a pimp, but really that's what it is. You follow me? That's what it is. She makes good money, do you understand where I'm coming from? It is my money, you know.

Unlike the classic pimp, a chili pimp, like Little D, seldom helps a prostitute get tricks and rarely assists her with her trade. Most often, he maintains a distance from her work, keeping his hands in other hustling activities. Although he may engage in other forms of hustling, his woman provides most of the money he needs to support his habit. Consequently, the chili pimp is more likely to "pimp off" rather than "pimp for" his woman. What influence he has on her is usually the result of his being her lover, boyfriend, or in some cases, husband.

The Social Typology of Hustlers

To characterize the different types of hustles, we performed a content analysis of the open-ended questions and descriptive materials corresponding with the hustling patterns. We found that HLS men could be assigned to different categories of hustles based on the following criteria: (1) the degree of skill, planning or sophistication required in hustling (Waldorf 1973; Biernacki 1979); (2) the target that is selected for hustling (Gould 1974; Goldstein 1981); and (3) the method of hustling (Chambers 1974; Preble and Casey 1969; Agar 1973). Using these criteria, we identified the following types: (1) the opportunistic hustler, (2) the legitimate hustler, (3) the skilled hustler and (4) the dope hustler.

The Opportunistic Hustler

Expediency governs the behavior of many hustlers. Hustlers must seize any opportunity that comes along to acquire money and/or drugs (Biernacki 1979). No opportunity, legitimate or illegitimate, that promises a quick and easy financial reward will be passed up. The opportunistic hustler tends to be a generalist who lets expediency, rather than other factors such as skill or contacts, dictate the hustling activity he engages in. As a result, he devotes little or no time to planning hustles and takes them as they come. Since little skill or sophistication is required for most of these activities, it is important to be alert and in the right place at the right time.

A majority of these users steal at least at some time to support their habits. But burglary, picking pockets, and shoplifting tend to require a greater amount of skill, planning, and sophistication than other kinds of nonspecific thievery. Further, men who engage in these activities tend to select specific targets while those who engage in nonspecific kinds of stealing select their targets haphazardly or at random. That is, of the latter group almost any opportunity that holds out the possibility of financial or narcotic gain is a likely target for their hustling.

The opportunistic hustler is the jack-of-all-trades. His hustling activities cover a range of hustles. For example, Gut, an 18-year-old heroin user from Philly, talks about a few of the many activities in which the opportunistic hustler engages:

Yesterday morning, I got up about eight. Got downtown by nine. I wanted to see this guy about some money he owed me. I got thirty-five dollars and left downtown about ten-thirty. I left downtown and went up on 67th and St. Lawrence, you know. The money that I had, I was going to buy me a bag of dope. I ran into this guy I know. We hooked up and got a fifty-dollar bag. Once we got the edges off and nobody was sick, then we scheme on how we gonna get our next fix. So, we went boosting, got a couple of leather coats, brought them back and sold them. He dropped me off, I guess about two o'clock. So, I go around to the dope house. I'm gonna snatch some dope from the dope man when he ain't looking. Instead of doing that, I go around to my guy's house and bag up three twenty-dollar bags of foot powder, right.

I tell the guys that we gone around to the dope house and the man gonna let us check the package in the hall to see if we like the weight on it and we gonna switch. So, we go around there, he give me the three bags, we check them and we switch. We went and took off and I laid up for a while. Went back up on the corner and ran into this girl I knew. She had about twenty-five dollars. So, I took her and beat her out of her twenty-five dollars and bought me a bag of dope. I waited for some new people to come and cop, beat 'em out of their money so I could cop again.

Therefore, on any given day, the opportunistic hustler like Gut is searching for people who owe him money, hooking up with others and combining money to buy drugs, boosting and conning people out of their money and/or dope. At other times, he is a thief, a burglar's lookout or a chili pimp.

The opportunistic hustler, with little time for personal grooming, generally hits the streets and begins hustling before the skilled hustler starts. There are several reasons for starting early. For example, Ron, a 30-year-old opportunistic hustler from Chicago, states:

I woke about seven. I woke up just tasting drugs, and I started to think of how I was going to get money for my fix. I just had a funny taste in my mouth like I wanted to chew something. I know I needed some drugs. I was just feeling drowsy, like I wasn't alive, you know. So, therefore, I put on my clothes and hit the streets. I just got out immediately. I didn't even comb my hair.

By starting early, he is in a position to exploit situations as they become available. For example, he might position himself in areas where early morning deliveries are made in order to catch truck drivers who fail to lock their trucks while making deliveries. Opportunities are presented when merchandise is delivered before a store opens. If one situation does not yield results, the opportunistic hustler has ample time to seek other possibilities. Ron made this point:

I "hit the streets" about seven-thirty. I seen Jake and all these fellows and we kicked it around for a while. We were watching the truckdrivers making deliveries, hoping for a slip, somebody make a mistake or something. There was too many of us, so we moved on and separated. I left there and just felt my way through Jew town, local shops. Walking through there I happened to knock off a nice little old sports coat, 'bout seventy-five dollar sports coat. So, now I got me, got me something to work with. I get fifty dollars for it and I'm happy. (After all) it didn't cost me nothing.

The chances of "scoring" merchandise are reduced when a number of opportunistic hustlers gather in the same areas. In groups, hustlers become highly visible to delivery persons, businessmen, and others. For this reason, the opportunistic hustler often works alone. This does not mean, however, that the opportunistic hustler will not participate in other types of hustling activities. Being an opportunist also means that one must be versatile enough to take a partner if the situation requires it. Rickey, 19 years old, from Chicago, was, in his own words, versatile and described what hustling entails:

Hustling is the main way I get most of my money to buy drugs. Mostly theft, you know. But you can keep coming on these same spots, so you have to be versatile. I have a couple of guys who are burglars, and they come and get me for my strength. Not that I'm a good burglar, but if the joint is cased out . . . I got another guy who steals cars, and he want me to drive a legitimate car and block anybody else from ah, a side street, you know, block something.

Few situations are exempt from the exploitations of the opportunistic hustler. For example, Rick, a 27-year-old heroin user from Philadelphia, describes the opportunities he found while interviewing for legitimate employment.

I went to see about this job and I went to this here office. And as I came, I noticed the lady at this place was sitting on the steps and had left her wallet on the desk. So, I said that I wanted to go to the bathroom. When I came back out, they was all upset, asking who came past the desk. They didn't even ask me 'cause I acted like I was standing there and I didn't know what was going on. I kept my mind straight. I went back to the interviewer and asked what happened. I had the money, she had forty dollars in the bag.

Even when the opportunistic hustler has a legitimate job, it does not mean an end to his hustling activities. He is as likely to exploit the opportunities found on his job as he is to exploit those found in any other setting. This point was made by Leroy, a 31-year-old government employee from Washington, D.C.:

I working for the Department of Energy, in all kind of big old government buildings. My ID get me through the door so I just flash my ID on the guard. Walk past him and usually the door be open in the building. I worked for the government long enough, I know that one door be open to a section. Open the door and you go in there, you know. I know a guy that buys IBM typewriters. The ball that goes around. You don't have to steal the whole typewriter. You just gotta be patient and get them balls. He gives me four dollars a ball. I work for the government and that's my main hustle. Getting them balls, you know. Take fifty of them and the dude gives you four dollars a ball. So that's fifty times four, that two hundred dollars.

Rick, who also considers himself a "strolling" thief, shows again how the naivete and trust of others is essential to the success of the opportunistic hustler.

I'm just like a strolling thief. I'm looking for whatever is not guarded. You know, most people are not geared to that way of thinking. And I just take advantage of their trust, you know.

A truck driver fails to lock his truck; a novice drug user trusts the addict to buy drugs; a wallet or purse is momentarily left unguarded. These are all situations that are ripe for exploitation by the opportunistic hustler. He manages to support a heroin habit by being alert, in the right place at the right time and ready to swing into action.

The Legitimate Hustler

Unlike the opportunistic hustler, the legitimate hustler seldom engages in illegal activities to support his heroin habit. Instead, he raises the money he needs for drugs by providing services or goods to residents in his neighborhood. These services are often an assortment of odd jobs done for people with whom he is familiar and who are familiar with him. The goods that he provides might consist of different kinds of merchandise that he sells at the various locations in his neighborhood. The legitimate hustler is different from others in that he earns, rather than steals. This sets him apart from most hustlers in the heroin lifestyle.

Like the opportunistic hustler, the legitimate hustler looks for any opportunity that promises to help support his habit. He also shares the distinction of being a jack-of-all-trades among hustlers. That is, under certain conditions the legitimate hustler will do whatever is necessary to obtain his drugs. However, as noted, the legitimate hustler is rarely involved in illegal activities. 'Rather than engage in illegal activities, hustlers like Bobby, a 27-yearold employee (Washington, D.C.) of a messenger service, devise a scheme whereby drugs are exchanged for services rendered:

I drive for a messenger service. Yeah, I have a run for the government that takes me out of the district, about twenty miles out of the district. Basically, what I do is deliver and pick up documents. And, after I make that run, which is eight in the morning, I usually make it back [to the neighborhood] within an hour. So, that gives me, for all practical purposes, till the afternoon when I have to make a second run. So, I have free time. So, uh, I got a system because of the car that I drive on my job. I want to make it clear that I don't do no stealing or stuff like that. I met this guy who had just received his income-tax check. He had a special place that he wanted to go to have it cashed and told me that it was worth $200 to get it cashed there. So, I took him. He gave me some stuff and bought two quarters. So, we got down on one quarter and he took the other quarter and split it in half. If I wanted to oil [shoot it] then I could and if I wanted to walk with it I could. So, I chose to walk with it. Ya know, it's like that. Cats I know will say, "Well, take us so-and-so," and that's a shot.

Legitimate hustlers like Vick, age 26, from the Philadelphia area, maintain their habits by borrowing—"robbing Peter to pay Paul." As he explains:

Just like I say, you robbin' Peter to pay Paul in a sense. Just like I borrow twenty dollars from you and tell you I'm gonna give it back to you tomorrow. I know I don't have no way of getting your money tomorrow unless I borrow it from somebody else. So, I borrow it from somebody else and give it to you. That keeps me and you straight. And, I borrow it from somebody else to pay the other guy. On payday, I take off the slack.

The legitimate hustler's ability to acquire money or drugs by transporting or borrowing from people means that he is familiar with them and that they are familiar with him. An important feature of his hustling behavior is that the targets he selects for hustling are usually people he knows or who live in his neighborhood.

He must often do an assortment of odd jobs to raise the money he needs to buy heroin. No job, regardless of how menial it might be, is beyond consideration. As George, a 23-year-old handyman, from Washington, 15.C., points out:

I might do anything. I might clean somebody's house for him. They will give me five or even ten dollars. Yesterday, I cleaned the upstairs of my girlfriend's house. I hadn't even finished when she gave me the money. Other times, I might be helping some dude move or clean a car. I fix people's television sets and, if I get the chance, I do some painting. Someone has a leaking pipe; I fix it. I know people [in the community], different people that want to improve their house. Wall papering, plastering, panelling. I do all that. You know, I might do anything I can to get my money. But as far as going out there to steal and all that, I don't do anything illegal, nothing illegal.

The legitimate hustler generally gets up around the same hour as most hustlers, somewhere between the hours of seven and eight. He may smoke a reefer, wash, eat breakfast, and if he hustles with someone, contact or wait for his hustling partner. Ramon, a 32-year-old enterprising salesman from New York, describes the early morning routine of the legitimate hustler:

Friday morning I woke up at eight, washed, ate breakfast, bacon and eggs, and waited on a buddy of mine so that we could go hustling.

But the hustling does not start until about ten. As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for hustlers like Ramon to begin at an even later hour:

[My buddy] he came by about noon. We left my house and went on up to the wholesale place where we go to get merchandise cheap. You know, for wholesale. We come out and sell them cheap and make a profit.

Like other hustlers, the legitimate hustler's initial hours are primarily dictated by the hours in which neighborhood business or residents begin their days and start to congregate in front of homes or in local bars. Billy, 30, of Chicago, talks about some of his activities:

We just walk around, just in the area, in the bars and stuff like that. You know, from bar to bar. You run into people on the street, especially in the afternoon and on payday. People are all over the place, you see people sitting on the steps, you know. You selling merchandise, you ask them and you bargain with them. Yeah, in the afternoon, you be joking with them. You know, the kind of personality you gotta have [in order to] sell stuff on the street. Salesman, that what it is. Selling the merchandise, making money back from what we put out our pockets.

The Skilled Hustler

The skilled hustler occupies a position of high status because of the type of his hustling activities. The activities most frequently reported as skilled hustles include burglaries, picking pockets, and specialized forms of shoplifting. These kinds of hustles are more highly regarded because they involve more risk and are generally more lucrative. Users who support their habits through these activities are believed to be more skillful, knowledgeable, and sophisticated thart.other user hustlers (Biernacki 1979).

Like the legitimate hustler, the skilled hustler usually begins his day like most working people in the United States. He rises early, somewhere between the hours of seven and eight, and follows a regular routine in preparing for a day of hustling. In spite of the early hour at which he awakens, the skilled hustler seldom begins hustling until around nine-thirty or ten. During the intervening time, he generally contacts his hustling partner and together they develop some plan of action. James, 28, a shoplifter from New York, describes this part of the skilled hustler's morning:

I made a call to my man, a partner of mine, to see what was happening. After that, I was downstairs about eight-thirty and I started to make my hook-up. It takes me between eight, no between eight-thirty and I'd say, uh, quarter to ten and I board up. You know, hook up with who I'm gonna play with. I'd say it's between quarter of ten or fifteen minutes to ten and whoever I'm playing with, we're hooked up. We usually try to determine which way we gonna go—north or south. We burn them west suburbs up over there so we don't even put that in our mind. So, we go south.

The skilled hustler seldom begins hustling without at least one other person. He gives far more attention to selecting the target for hustling than other hustlers do. Fashionable department stores, apartments where the occupants have left for the morning, and people in congested and impersonal settings are potential targets for the skilled hustler. Timing is extremely important to a skilled hustler's plans. He must know when his targets are most vulnerable. Department stores are more vulnerable at specific times during the day, people leave apartments at specific times and "pigeons" are found on the streets during certain periods of the day. Glenn, a 33-year-old pickpocket from Chicago, explains how he operates:

We start playing from the word go—this is our game. About quarter to ten. Then, you know, a woman or man, they try to get their shopping down before the noon hours. So, we get out like that. I stick, you know, or he stick, either one. We're picking pockets. Like I say, it's quarter to ten and we're having our plan.

Occasionally the skilled hustler will deviate from his normal hustlingroutine and vary his methods (Waldorf 1973; Biernacki 1979). However, he usually stays with established methods that can be counted on to provide the kind of money he needs. One of the more skilled methods most often used by the hustler is "tail-choppin'." As Zulu points out, successful tail-choppin' is dependent upon the aid of an accomplice.

Tail-choppin' is when you go into a store and . . . you have somebody with you—mainly I prefer a woman. You go into a store where they have maybe just two counters and don't have no more than three people workin' in there, so you can pull one of the salesperson or maybe two of them away, while you deal with one. I prefer jewelry stores and clothin' stores, because they are not really that big [but] you got to look the part. . . . If the woman can pull the salesman away while I'm lookin' at a tray, then I'm gonna swing. . . . I'm gonna swing and when he look up I'm gone.

Another hustling method employed by the skilled hustler is described by Ray, 19, a self-defined burglar from Chicago:

My man and me, our thing consists of apartment B 8c E. You know, apartment breaking and entering. Ah, we pick the locks, open the locks. There was a few apartments that we tried, knocked on the doors, ya know. A few people were home at the time. There was one apartment that we knocked on the door and nobody seemed to answer. I got into the apartment; jimmied the window, went into the apartment. Nobody was there. I opened up the door and let my man in. We jammed the lock because this way if anyone did come with keys, they couldn't get in. We robbed the people of jewelry and cash, no TV because it's too heavy to carry. We were in and out in about ten minutes. We got out by the fire escape.

The Dope Hustler

The dope hustler supports his habit through a variety of activities associated with illicit drug sales. Most often, he is a low-status pusher or "juggler" (Waldorf 1973; Preble & Casey 1969), who gets drugs on consignment, takes out a small amount for personal use and sells what remains to fellow addicts in his immediate neighborhood (Biernacki 1979).

Slim, 38, of New York City, talks about this type of hustling:

My main thing, I sell stuff, man. You know, I try to get me a package and I'll convert it into bags and sell it. Like yesterday, I went to see the man, tell him, you know, man, there's a lot of customers out there and, shit, nobody got no good dope. And, he give it to me on consignment, you know, get enough for ten bags on consignment. So, I dumped [shot] two and went on the street and sold the other eight. You know, make a little money to take home. Yeah, that way I can use and make a small profit.

The dope hustler seldom realizes a large profit from his activities. He might try to keep twenty to forty dollars for every one hundred dollars of heroin he sells. As James, 26, a juggler from D.C., points out, the amount of money from such activities fluctuates with the amount of heroin that the dope hustler takes out for his own use:

ûh, my brother and me, we went downtown and, uh, picked up a big packet. We get the dope from the man. He gives me the dope to sell, so I sell his dope and get my drugs, money, and his money out of it. So, we picked up fifteen, that's $480 street value in drugs. I got me some bags, got off, and came back on the street to sell. We sold a lot of drugs that day. Sold about, about fifty people. Made about $400. I sold about $400 worth of drugs but I only made like $75.

The dope hustler recognizes that drugs and/or money can be obtained by providing certain kinds of services to dealers. As a "tout" or "steerer" (Preble and Casey 1969) he persuades other users to buy a certain dealer's bag of heroin. Frank, a 28-year-old tout from Philly, talked about his trade:

Well, my main hustle is, um, like we bring so many customers to a certain dealer and we'd get something from him. Like, I'm with a couple of guys that sell dope and every customer I get they take five or seven dollars out of whatever they make and that's mine. Like, sometimes they give me a half a quarter in the day when I first come out, that's twenty-five dollars. I got to make five customers to pay that twenty-five dollars that they gave me for that morning shot. During the day I might get about five more customers, right. That's another half a quarter, it goes like that. At the end of the day, my drugs and money is there.

The dope hustler also provides services to other drug users who are unfamiliar with the heroin scene in his neighborhood (Biernacki 1979), buying for people who want to avoid being seen in copping areas or who do not have good connections in the neighborhood. Philly Ben, 27, a self-defined "middleman," describes the typical activities of a copman:

Like sometimes there are people that don't know where to cop. We get their money and cop for them and get a taste. My biggest advantage is that I know, uh, I am real tight with most of the people that get in big quantity. I always know when the [good] stuff is comin' through. I always have people who want me to get it for 'em. I'm like the middleman, I got a credit line with most guys.

Thus the dope hustler supports his habit by trading services for small quantities of heroin and/or money. He relies upon his knowledge of Where good quality heroin can be bought and his familiarity with the heroin scene. This knowledge gives him an advantage over others who would like to engage in similar types of activities. Philly Ben describes his assets:

It's like a trading thing. If you want to buy some such and such, okay, I can get it for you. I may get it, uh, cheaper than what you can get it, I know the man. So I make out like that, you know. You may want some stuff and you may want it in quantity. I'll go get it from people I know. I get good quality stuff cause I know the people. Everybody know that and I come out making something out of it. I may do that two, three, four times. A guy might be used to paying seventy-five dollars for a bundle, I get it for him for fifty-five, cause I know the man.

Some hustlers are paid at both ends of the transaction. The buyer and the dealer pay for his services (Goldstein 1981). Sometimes the payment is in drugs and sometimes it is in cash. The dope hustler is also in a position to con naive or unsuspecting heroin users. This type of con may be as simple as the one described by Sluggo, 22, of Chicago:

I used to sell and people come up to see and ask me if I still have some stuff. You know, am I still selling stuff. I tell them yeah and sell them bunk. You know, flour, milk sugar, quinine—bunk.

Or, as in the case of the "baiter's game," the con may be slightly more complex and require the involvement of others. Andre, a 27-year-old player from Chicago, describes the way this game is played:

Yeah, I hit the streets and, uh, run into a couple of associates of mine and try to figure out what we are going to get into. So, uh, we play a game we call baiter's game. We have a bait man out on the street, like he is selling drugs. We have another man as a come-on. A third party would be a man with the front money. Okay, in this game, say myself, I would play the come-on man. I see a customer coming down the street who wants to buy some drugs, you understand? I tell him that my partner got some, which ain't nothing but quinine and milk sugar, or something like that. It ain't no real heroin. It's just, you know, bunk, mixed straight up quinine and milk sugar. Okay, so, this guy ask me what's happening. I say, well, uh, I don't know what is happening. I say, but, I say I think my man got some. Just as I say that, my man steps out of the shadows, he play like he is really high. You know, he put on a droopy look on his face, and a slippery walk. The third party, the come-on man, he come up with two or three dollars and say to the dude that he is going to cop. This is to really convince the tricker, as we say, that this is legitimate, you know. So, okay, to make a long story short, we get the money, the man go about his business. We play this game off and on, off and on, and we make up to, sometimes, $300 or $400, you know.

As a general rule, the dope hustler's cons do not require much skill or imagination (Agar 1973). But this does not mean that skill and imagination are absent from the activities of the dope hustler. As Irv, 26, from Philadelphia, points out, "prescription busting" requires a considerable degree of imagination:

My main thing, uh, I bust prescriptions. See, the guys that I know, they don't do nothing but drink syrup. They mainly into cough syrup. That's howl got turned on to my hustle. I bust prescriptions, you understand? I just go in a doctor's office and, uh, just go in there for something, see the prescriptions and take a few. I just write out for syrup and go to different stores and get the prescription [filled]. The prices vary from store to store. Mainly, I go to the stores, the ones that cost less. I get like eight ounces for like twenty-eight dollars from certain stores, or like some charge three dollars for an ounce. itk, the first stop is always the cheapest stop. You know, you might get it and sell it on the street. You get like forty dollars for eight ounces on the street. Yeah, you know, it's like five dollars an ounce. With the money I make, I go down and buy me some dope.

In addition to being imaginative and inventive, the successful prescription buster must also possess some of the same skills as those of the accomplished forger. He must have reasonable handwriting skills and know how doctors write prescriptions. Irv, an accomplished prescription buster, talked about the way he learned to write prescriptions:

Some people had a few prescriptions. I told them to write out a couple, you know, write one out for me. I just copied their handwriting. I just keep writing until I figure it out. So, after that I just write out for syrup. If you know the name of a syrup, it's fairly easy.

Targets for the dope hustler are usually restricted to fellow addicts or naive heroin users. Because of the nature of his goods and services, he is generally sought out by others. As a result, he tends to exercise a considerable amount of control over his hustling schedule. For example, pushers like James may begin at a relatively early hour:

I got out of bed about eight o'clock. I was in the street by eight-fifteen. Went by my brother's and we went downtown to 23rd Street. We picked up a big package of stuff and we was selling around nine o'clock.

On the other hand, hustlers like Karl, 20, from New York, begin hustling at a much later hour and do not have to leave the apartment to sell their goods:

That morning I got up about seven-thirty. I looked out the window, smoked a cigarette, cut the television on. Then, I cut that back off and laid back down for a while and listened to the radio. I went back to sleep and woke up about eleven that morning. See, I don't have to leave the house. Naw, I have a source bringin' me the stuff, you know. I deal right out of my apartment. I don't have to do no running, just lay down, like twenty-four hours a day.

In summary, the dope hustler has a relatively low status position in the hierarchy of drug dealing. He is not the high status dealer who realizeslarge profits from his activities but is a scuffling hustler who obtains just enough money or heroin to support his habit on a day-to-day basis.

Problems of Hustling

Among the many obstacles faced by the HLS men are the various preventive measures that people take against their activities. For example, John, 33, a burglar, in New York describes how his hustling is made more difficult:

They put more fuckin' locks on the doors. All those locks. Sometimes you go to burglarize, man, they got alarms, everything. You hit the door, you hit the window and the alarm goes off. I am gone. I run by this lady so fast, I think she will catch pneumonia just from the wind. It gets harder.

To protect their homes and apartments, people in large urban areas often invest in security devices. It is common for store managers to install antishoplifting devices to protect store merchandise. And although these devices may simply slow down the highly skilled professional thief, they represent still another obstacle to the hustler. And of course there are always policemen and undercover agents to contend with. As Rick points out, these measures have more serious consequences for the low-level juggler:

It's a hassle. Some days you stand out here on the street or on the strip and sell your wares and don't get hassled. Other days every few minutes you look up, a whole flock of motherfuckin' pigs riding around. So, you gotta run and stash your shit.

Nathan, 28, from D.C., aptly points out what is commonly felt in the drug world: that it is those at the bottom who get most of the attention from the law enforcers:

Who controls those types of things, the White man. The Jew boys, the Italian boys, them are the ones that got control, who sit in Congress and stuff like that; they make the laws and any time a Black man get involved in anything like, into makin' some money and it happen to be dealing with drugs, those are the ones who do thirty, forty, fifty years; and the White man that was at the top of it, he don't get nothing. The main thing is, what are we doM' to control the importation of heroin into this country. We're only fuckin' . . . with the low man on the totem pole. . . . What are we gonna do to the people who is bringing the drug into this country. That's where you start. Don't start with me or Joe Blow. Me and Joe Blow between the both of us we ain't got twenty dollars. Don't start with us. . . . You get the man that gets the money from me usin' . . . get him.

One of the reasons for the diversity of hustling activities is that repeated use orthe same method of hustling poses increased risks for the addict hustler. As James, a 28-year-old skilled hustler from New York City, points out:

Normally I steal. But it gets more difficult, you know. You go, there's only certain places, you know, where you can steal cause you burn your stuff out. Sometimes you gotta walk, walk, walk, you know, until you get in the right store. I went to Gimbels, I went to Macy's and Alexander's. I had to make all those stops, they know me. Some of the people in the store they already know your face. They know what you're coming in there to do and they watch you. You have to move around. Some days you don't get nothin' from boosting cause they watching you, you know. Some days you can't really come off, you burn your stuff out.

Over time, the shoplifter runs out of stores that he can steal from because he becomes known by store owners, salespersons, and detectives.

Repeated use of the same method of hustling also poses problems for con men. But the consequences of recognition can have a far greater impact. A case in point is provided by Andre, who used the baiter's game:

By him knowing me, understand, facewise, he's going to eventually confront me. Well, I seen him about an hour later [after conning him] and my repercussions came. You know, I was standing up there by the comer and all of a sudden one of my friends said, "Look out." I turned and there I met a lead pipe hitting me dead in the face. He knocked me to the ground, busted my eye, cracked my nose, the side of my face and split my head open. After I got out of the hospital, they wanted to keep me, I ran into a friend. I told him, it's a baiter's game. I knew eventually it was going to happen if I continued to do it. You know, someone going to get wise, recognize me, come looking for me.

HLS men recognize the extreme problems that injury or extended hospitalization can create for them. They talk about the problems posed by street predators, making reference to the jungle-like nature of the street and the predators who prowl on them. And as is the case in any jungle, the men are aware, that if they relax, if they are careless, other hungry predators will not hesitate to make them their prey. Jake, a 28-year-old from Philly, underscored this aspect of street life:

The lifestyle is tough. It's becoming more dangerous and I have to think of how I'm going to protect myself. Other people in the game, he's a drug addict too, your life be in danger cause most of the time he don't care about hurting other people. They all got they main thing, that's dope. They cut your heart out for that dope. If they thought you had some dope on you and they needed it bad enough, they cut your heart out to get that dope.

Jugglers perhaps have most to fear from the street predators since they usually have dope or money. But no user can forget the rules of street life. Those who relax and become careless become prey. Ray, 19, from Chicago, discovered this fact while attempting to cop drugs for friends:

I was trying to cop and some weightwatchers came up. They seen I had a lot of money. That used to be my main thing. I'd go cop, bring it back and we'd all get high. Anyway, I goes up the street, trying to cop, run into a dude who said that he had something. I asked him if he'd let me check it out. It was all right. But he didn't have enough of it for the kind of money I had. So, I wouldn't go for it. So, while I'm negotiating with him, we go up this alley, he takes out a knife and sticks it in my middle. He don't say a word, he don't have to. I got the money in my hand and I drop it. The money was on the ground and he don't mind tripping me loose to get the money. So, when he took the knife out of my middle, I grabbed his hand. When I grabbed his hand, that's when he tried to stick me. He had me around the neck so I know I can't let go of him now. I pulled and grabbed the blade, covered it with my hand. I pulled and grabbed the blade, covered it with my hand. But I couldn't hold it, see. We fought and I tripped and fell on the ground. When I tripped, he sliced my hand and I hit my head on the ground. He's standing over me, trying to get the money, so I kicked him. I kicked up and he stabs me. He got me several times. After that, I don't really know. I think he picked up the money and ran. I don't know. The next thing I remember, I'm looking up and there's red lights coming this way. I must have passed out. It was the police and they took me to the hospital. They told me I had to stay because of all the blood I lost. But, you know, they ain't got no shit in hospitals so I snuck out as soon as I could.

The problems that the HLS men face in hustling are not new. Nor can it be said that they are problems that affect activities of only heroin users. Security and crime-control measures have been improving. Technological advancements have made hustling activities such as stealing, burglarizing, and drug dealing more risky, and thus the job the hustler faces is more formidable. As a result, HLS men are not able to meet their daily heroin needs by specializing in only one hustling method. They know that any slip up can cut short their lives in the heroin lifestyle. To maintain heroin habits over time they must have alternative sources of funds or drugs and a variety of hustles. The four-fold typology of hustlers identified reveals a complex interweaving of behavioral styles which comprise the essential activity of hustling money for heroin. In addition, this discussion shows how hustling is closely integrated with the larger lifestyles of both heroin users and the non-heroin-using community. Finally, the types are also important in understanding the social and economic function of hustling and its impact on inner-city communities.

Reflections and Implications

The crimes and hustles described in this chapter are born mainly of poverty and exist mainly in the communities of the poor. One might argue that, in a certain sense, no one knows the value of money better than those who do not have it. In 1984, for example, (according to the Census Bureau) 34.4 million Americans-15 percent of the population—live below the official poverty line (currently $9,862 per year for a family of four). For all of these people, a decent, visible means of support are primary values. But toughness, getting big money, and getting some wine "are values [they] adopt after the 'props' supporting decency have for some reason been judged unviable, unavailable or unattainable. . . . When jobs are not available, living up to the rules of conduct based on values of decency becomes difficult." (Anderson 1976)

Obviously this is true of HLS men. Although over half of them cite legitimate enterprises as frequent sources of income, only a quarter are able to claim them as a primary source. The others must depend on crimes of various sorts and for most that means some form of thievery.

Our typology of hustlers makes one wonder about the impact of addict hustling on society and on the communities in which these men live. Crime and heroin use are certainly linked. For example, it is known that crime increases when the cost of heroin escalates and when a heroin user is in an active phase of use rather than abstinent. However, the HLS data lend support to the contention that one cannot project the level of heroin-supporting crime simply from the number of known users and the theoretical cost of their habits. Further, in light of the average cost of these men's habits, one must wonder about the nature of the crime /heroin connection. Is all crime a heroin user commits heroin-related or only that share which directly pays for dope? One cannot seriously argue that, were it not for their heroin use, these men would be legitimately employed and their criminality suddenly disappear—not when unemployment rates remain staggeringly high in the minority communities: over 21 percent of Black adults and about 41 percent of Black teenagers are unemployed in our central cities (communication from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Commerce, for October 1983). Ball (1982) suggests that the heroin/crime connection should be measured by the difference between the crimes committed while actively using heroin and those committed while "on the street" but not actively using heroin. There is a certain logic to the argument. He concludes that heroin use itself explains from 60 to 95 percent of the criminal activity of active heroin users. But even if we grant the point for discussion's sake, have we really learned much by it? For one thing, it asks us to suppose that the only difference between the two life phases is heroin use or nonuse, which may not be the case. It should also be noted that in Ball's argument a heroin user would be considered abstinent if he used heroin no more than three times a week. Suppose a former user is released from prison, a detoxification facility or a treatment program and that he qualified to be considered abstinent. Also suppose that he is jobless as are most "ex-users" like him. It is not hard to imagine that, jobless, he feels the increasing pressures and financial burdens of life and that two things happen concurrently: he feels both forced back into hustling and pulled back into the lifestyle of heroin use. Once the four-times-a-week threshold is passed, Ball's argument demands that the heroin use be blamed for the crime. Yet, one can argue that both are effects of other causes, such as, poverty and psychosocial pressure.

A further limitation of this approach is that measures of criminal activity say nothing about its seriousness or cost. They tell us nothing about violence, victimization or dollar value. One crime is not just like any other. Although this does not acquit them of guilt and social responsibility, HLS men do express reluctance to be violent. Also, we must consider the fact that their skill levels are not very high. Depending on skill and luck, it might take a greater number of petty crimes to scratch together twenty dollars than five hundred. HLS data suggest that heroin crimes are more likely to involve small amounts of money. This would be consistent with habits which, on the average, are supported by only twenty-five dollars per day.

Furthermore, our typology shows that one out of every four HLS men have legitimate income and one in five deal with the drug's distribution system itself. In the case of dealers, touts, and connections, the cost of their activity is supported primarily by the other hustlers' and workers' dollars, not by additional illegal dollars. The fact is that only about half of the HLS men pass on the bill for their heroin habits to the rest of society. But society is a vague term. One might ask more precisely who is victimized and at what cost. Here, again, HLS men provide some insights.

Consider the respective crimes and targets of the two types of hustlers: opportunists (19 percent of HLS men and 30 percent of all hustling activity) and skilled hustlers (12 percent of the men and 19 percent of all hustling). As detailed earlier, the skilled hustler can manage sometimes safer and usually more lucrative crimes such as thefts from businesses and more affluent residences. In Pennsylvania alone in 1982, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, skilled-hustler-type crimes accounted for some $88.3 million. (This is by all perpetrators, not just heroin users.) In that same period in Pennsylvania, opportunist-type crimes accounted for about $62.7 million in losses. The opportunist hustler, however, tends to be a solitary predator involved in street crimes and petty larcenies. It is well established that the targets of these poverty-driven crimes are the poor themselves. These predators prey on their own communities.

The predatory presence of opportunistic hustlers in their communities undoubtedly oppresses the poor, degrading their lives further by adding dreadto their destitution. Yet, one might argue that quality-of-life issues are marginal in the hard-scrabble world of predator and prey, the world of the survival economy. Theirs is a world of staggering unemployment, illness, malnutrition, and death. Black children, according to the Children's Defense Fund, are twice as likely as White to die before the age of one and four times more likely to be murdered before the age of four. It is indisputable that the survival economy desperately needs an improved quality of life or that opportunists add to its burden of fear. But it also desperately needs increased financial resources. In that regard the typology of hustlers allows one to speculate whether the communities of the survival economy, despite self-predation, might not realize a net gain, at least in simple terms, of resource transfer from hustling.

But one need not defend hustling in order to question whether heroin lies at the root of the crime problem. A study of the HLS men and their hustling challenges two fundamental axioms of public policy on heroin. The first is that heroin use leads to a drug tolerance invariably manifested in escalating drug habits. The second is that escalating habits drive the users' economic behavior. The story of the HLS men's patterns of heroin use presented throughout this volume, but especially in chapters 5 and 7, is in direct contradiction to the first contention. Lives of heroin use can, in fact, be self-regulated and lived within manageable limits. As a consequence, HLS men call into question the second assumption. Their pattern of life and hustling gives solid support to Heather Ruth's study of heroin users' economic dynamics (Ruth 1973).

In her study of New York City addicts, Ruth contends that "heroin users adjust their habits over time to reflect attainable goals in response to economic pressures [rather than] physiological demand for heroin." Her study shows that users' incomes consistently outpaced their drug expenditures. But more importantly, when users had the added financial burden of dependents, such as mates, it was their drug expenditures that dropped rather than their incomes that rose. One could not expect to see that pattern if their heroin use was beyond their control. Ruth's conclusions are inescapable. First, income is a consistent predictor of a user's weekly expenditure for his own heroin. Second, and further illustrating the plasticity of the heroin habit and the humanness of its users, "a significant number of heroin users prefer the psychic (and social) benefits of having adult partners—usually of the opposite sex—to maximizing their level of heroin consumption at constant levels of incomes."

Heroin use is not the root of the social and economic patterns and ills of the user and the community. It is the other way around. Treatment programs and enforcement policies will never be adequate to the task as long as they insist on focusing on mere surface patterns of heroin use. The hustler types discussed in this chapter are important examples of aspects of heroin use that exist under the surface. Social and economic factors on the larger scene create and perpetuate this hustling which, in turn, is integrated into the social and economic fabric of ghetto life and the heroin lifestyle. Enlightened public policy and effective treatment must realize that hustling and heroin use exist as integral parts of lifestyles that are socially shaped and economically driven.


1. Data used in this chapter consist of responses by the sample of 124 men interviewed to the following kinds of open-ended questions: What are the different ways you obtain money to buy your drugs? What is your main hustle? How did you get money for your last buy? Answers to these questions were supplemented by responses to the open-ended questions and the general descriptive accounts of their hustling activities. For example, when interviewers asked the men what they did on a typical day, respondents described their hustling activities in some detail. We therefore analyzed: (1) descriptions of main hustles and of the actual processes of hustling, (2) discussions of problems HLS men encountered while pursuing their hustling activities, and (3) information suggesting how the hustling activities affect the lives of people in the larger community.


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Our valuable member Allen Fields has been with us since Tuesday, 21 February 2012.