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Is Substance Abuse Linked to Prostitution?

You would be hard-pressed to find a prostitute who said she dreamt of being a prostitute as a child. In the vast majority of cases, women from broken homes become prostitutes. Often, they’re victims of child abuse, child sexual abuse or neglect and they run away from home to get distance from their abusers or to save their lives.

When these runaways run out of cash and land on the streets, they turn to prostitution for survival. Drugs almost always enter the equation, but do they come before or after the woman or girl becomes a prostitute? It happens both ways. Sometimes a woman engages in prostitution to obtain money to fund her drug habit. Other times, the humiliation and suffering of prostitution drives the prostitute to drugs like heroin to numb their pain.

The link between substance abuse and prostitution is well-documented. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “A study of 200 prostitutes documented a high prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse in their family of origin, during the drift into prostitution or as a part of prostitution.” This comes as no surprise. Police officers, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are aware of it.

Arrestees Test Positive for Drugs

According to research from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Drug Use Forecast (DUF) Program, which tracks the drug use among those arrested, data collected from female arrestees in 1992 from 24 cities revealed positive drug tests for females ranging between 38% and 85%. “

Female arrestees charged with prostitution or drug sale/possession were the most likely to test positive,” reported the U.S. Department of Justice. While not all prostitutes are addicted to drugs, many streetwalkers do have a substance abuse problem, and it’s not uncommon for such women to trade sex for drugs.

Referring to streetwalkers, Allan Schwartz, LCSW, PH.D. wrote on, “Most of them are addicted to drugs, and many were forced into prostitution against their will. Sex trafficking is an international, multi-billion dollar business involving criminals who kidnap and enslave girls.” Schwartz continues, “Girls as young as ten-years of age are snatched from their countries and sold into prostitution far away from their native homes.”

Facing prostitution or solicitation charges in the East Bay? For the hard-hitting defense you need and deserve, contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed for a free consultation.


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