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J Sex Res. 2005 Feb;42(1):28-34.

Remembering the lizard: reconstructing sexuality in the rooms of narcotics anonymous.

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Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.


The crack epidemic was devastating to poor American communities in part because of the destruction wrought by the system of exchanging sex for drugs, which was a key feature of the crack-use culture. Sex-for-drugs exchanges were often conducted under unsafe circumstances and were linked to the spread of AIDS and other STDs, as well as unplanned pregnancies. The existence of this alternative system of sexual relationships threatened the economic viability of established commercial sex work and undermined the status and power of women. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings helped men and women recover from crack addiction through a well-described 12-step process. Described as the rooms, these time- and space-specific encounters helped people become sober in the context of neighborhoods that were centers of the drug trade. Because of the key role of sex in the crack culture, transformation of sexual relationships was essential to establishing and maintaining sobriety. The manner in which the rooms of NA influence the sexuality and lifeworld of addicted people is explored using Barker's theory of ecological psychology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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