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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2009 Sep;41(3):219-26.

Making connections: New Orleans Evacuees' experiences in obtaining drugs.

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  • 1Institute for Special Populations Research, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., 71 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010, USA.


Between August 29 and September 7, 2005, almost all New Orleans residents were evacuated from the area in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. News reports indicate that almost 130,000 New Orleans Evacuees (NOEs) were evacuated to Houston, Texas, the largest recipient of the civilian population from New Orleans. Some of these NOEs were active participants in the illicit drug market in New Orleans prior to the hurricane. The period between the flooding and the nearly complete evacuation of New Orleans as well as their subsequent displacement to Houston and other locations provided unique opportunities to study what occurs when illicit drug markets are disrupted, since populations of illicit drug users and purchasers could no longer routinely obtain their drugs in predictable ways. Utilizing qualitative data from in-depth interviews and focus groups, this article describes the ways NOEs (1) managed their drug acquisition and use following evacuation; (2) located new sources of drugs in Houston and elsewhere by tapping into shared drug culture; and (3) gained access to and learned the argot for drugs in the local drug market in new settings. This report contributes to the nascent literature on disrupted drug markets.

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