Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Joan Rycraft


The purpose of this qualitative study was to obtain a deeper understanding of Puerto Rican women between the ages of 18 - 35 with a cocaine and heroin problem. This study was designed to identify and describe common issues (specific problems, and personal/ social characteristics, factors contributing to drug use) in the lives of these young women, their backgrounds, and life experiences, and to examine the social problems that these young women face as a result of their involvement with cocaine and heroin. Literature on drugs use reveals that females are especially vulnerable to the physical and social consequences of drugs dependence and abuse .General health consequences of drug use in women are poor nutrition, low-self stem, depression and physical abuse. In Puerto Rico, female drug users were studied in the context of HIV risk and prostitution activities. Some important research findings related to prostitution and drugs were: in comparison to New York, in Puerto Rico gender was significantly associated with gallery drug use and female paid sex (Andia, Bearsley, & Cant, 2000). It is quite common to find that females over 25, who are working in the sex trade describe themselves as addicted to drugs (Alegría, et al.,1994). Cocaine and heroin were ordinarily used drugs among this population (Hansen, López- Iftikhar, & Alegría, 2002). Specifically, the study employed a grounded theory methodology in which fifteen formerly cocaine and/or heroine drugs user were interviewed. The method of constant comparative analysis was used to analyze the interview transcripts. The grounded theory derived from this analysis was expressed in the form of the following congruencies about the life of the participants. The congruencies were: 1. Dysfunctional family of origin. 2. The majority of the participants came from communities in which there were complex problems, few opportunities, and a high exposure to drugs. 3. Drug-using friends and/or sexual/romantic partners. 4. Developing a criminal life linked to addiction. 5. Poor governmental support for attacking the drug addiction problem. 6. Hispanic cultural values positively and negatively affect the rehabilitation of the women [in the study].


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons