The U.S. response to crack cocaine adoption was at times contradictory, with allocating the majority of federal drug control resources to the cocaine market, such as the 1989 passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which raised penalties for crack cocaine distribution and ushered in the first-time use of mandatory minimum prison sentences for crack cocaine distribution . Yet at the same time, the U.S. government’s drug education and communication efforts largely ignored drugs such as crack cocaine . These efforts were informed by a paradigmatic construction of addiction as a medical condition , framed by an informercial approach that sought to normalize crack cocaine and problem drug use while also demonizing the drug user . As a result of this paradigm, the U.S. government began to construct a whole of society approach which marked a shift in federal drug policy. Government organizations such as the Joint Commission and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration began to adopt the “cultural model of drug use,” which saw addiction as a pervasive and multi-factorial problem, and included danger and harm as part of normal problem drug use [3, 8].
Rehabilitation efforts and healthcare services were seen as inadequate to address the public health crisis contained within the crack cocaine epidemic and were further marginalized by the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine. These structural factors made it impractical for correctional agencies to provide treatment services or services which would enable the return to social roles and responsibilities .
Today, despite increasing evidence that drug use and addiction are public health problems, drug education and communication in the U.S. still largely perpetuate a stereotype of the drug user . This stereotype is exemplified by the popular media depiction of the crack cocaine user, which depicts the addict primarily as a problem using a homophilic term such as “junkie,” and is responsive to a subcultural model of drug use . The popularity of this stereotype has contributed to the demonizing of crack cocaine users and the medical-industrial complex that serves to sustain this public health problem . Despite shifting federal drug policy toward a whole of society approach, many drug education and communication programs in the U.S. d2c66b5586