Perceptions of Social Pathology in the Neighborhood and the Etiology of Narcotic Addiction A Retrospective Study

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In this study, we examined whether differential perceptions of poor urban neighborhoods may contribute to narcotic addiction in individuals who grow up in these neighborhoods. Three groups of adult males provided retrospective perceptions of the neighborhoods where they lived at ages 12 to 14. The groups, matched on neighborhood, age, and race, were: narcotic addicts, peer controls-a never-addicted control sample of age-11 associates of the addicts, and community controls-a never-addicted control sample of age-11 peers who did not associate with the addicts. Results suggested clear group differences in perceptions of neighborhood deviance, with addicts perceiving the greatest and community controls the least amount of deviance. However, within groups, subjects who lived in more socially deviant areas, as determined by official records, tended to view their neighborhoods as more deviant than did subjects who lived in less deviant neighborhoods.

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