A World of Opportunities

Lifestyle and Economic Behavior of Heroin Addicts in Amsterdam

By Martin Grapendaal, Ed Leuw, and Hans Nelen

Subjects: Criminology
Series: SUNY series in New Social Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Paperback : 9780791422427, 240 pages, February 1995
Hardcover : 9780791422410, 240 pages, February 1995

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Table of contents


Chapter 1  Introduction

Goals and Research Questions

The Drug-Political Context

Normalization of Illegal Drug Use

Rejecting a "War on Drugs"

Dutch Drug Laws and Law Enforcement Policy

Epidemiology of Deviant Drug Addiction

Principles of Dutch Social Drugs Policy:
Towards a Cultural Integration of Drug Problems.

Chapter 2  The Connection Between Drug Use and Crime: Facts and Explanations

Empirical Connection Between Drug Use and Crime

A Historical and Ecological Perspective

Comparisons Between Groups

Individual Connection Between Drug Use and Crime


The Perspective of Causality

The Perspective of Functionality

Chapter 3  Careers in Deviancy and Drugs

Starting to Use Hard Drugs

Social-Economic Background

Place of Birth

Primary Phase of Socialization: Family and Childhood

Secondary Phase of Socialization: Education, Friends, Starting on Drugs

Course of a Drug Career

A Theoretical Model of Development

The Building of a Drug Career: From Recreational User to Full-Time Junkie

Dismantling a Drug Career: The Addict Calms Down and Looks for a Way Out

Continuity of criminal patterns in life histories

Very Criminal Prior to First Drug Use

"Moderately Criminal" Prior to First Drug Use

Noncriminal Prior to First Drug Use


Chapter 4  The Amsterdam Drug Scene

The Drug Scene in Amsterdam's Inner City

Actors in the Scene and Their Mutual Relationships

Interactions Between Addicts

Interactions Between Addicts and Public

Concluding remarks

Chapter 5  Income Acquisition

Ways of Acquiring Income

Social Security

Acquisitive Crime

The Market of White and Brown

The Business of Prostitution and Sex


Income in Kind

A Quantitative Picture of Income

Different Sources of Income and Their Relationship.

The Figures for Amsterdam Compared with Other Studies

A Closer Look at the Different Offenses

Periods of Abstinence and Income from Crime

An Economic Typology

Construction of the Typology

Illustrations of the Typology

The Typology in Time

Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 6  Spending and Drug Use


Categories of Expenditure

Expenditure in Figures

Drug Use

Heroin and Cocaine

Psychopharmaca, Alcohol, and Cannabis

Little-Used Drugs

Methods of Drug Taking

The Functions of the Different Drugs in the Scene

The Function of Heroin

The Function of Cocaine

The Functions of Psychopharmaca

Patterns of Use

Polydrug Use

Variability in Consumption

Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 7  Methadone Maintenance, Illegal Drug Use, and Acquisitive Crime.

Methadone Maintenance Programs and Crime: The Theory

Methadone and Crime According to the Orthodox Theory of Methadone Maintenance

Methadone Maintenance and a Reduction in Crime

Methadone Maintenance and Nonreduction in Crime

Methadone Maintenance Programs in Amsterdam

Methadone Use and the Use of Illegal Drugs

Methadone Use

Methadone and the (Illegal) Use of Heroin and Cocaine

The Distribution of Methadone and Crime

The Distribution of Methadone and the Economic Typology

Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 8  Conclusions, Theoretical Implications, and Possible Policy Consequences

The Most Important Results

The Relationship Between Drug Use and Crime

Possible Policy Consequences

Two Radical Policy Models

Reformation of Drug Policy


Some Considerations for the International Prohibitionistic Policy Perspective



Nature of the Data

Weekly Questionnaire

Reliability and Validity of Research Data

A Closer Look at the Sample



This book examines the policies of the Dutch toward illicit drug use and the effect these policies have had on heroin addicts and drug-related crime.


In many countries, the debate on drug issues has turned into polarization between legalization and prohibition. This book provides a third strategy, a "compromise" between the two extreme positions.

The Netherlands, particularly its capital Amsterdam, is known for its relatively tolerant attitude to the illegal drug phenomenon. In contrast to the American ideology of radical prohibitionism that has resulted in a "war on drugs," the Dutch have adopted their own 'pragmatic' approach, which involves decriminalization of the use of drugs and some (limited) tolerance for the hard drugs scene to become open and visible within society.

The central theme of this book is to determine whether the life style and the economic behavior of heroin addicts have been influenced by the Dutch social and cultural climate. Emphasis has been put on drug related crime and the influence of methadone maintenance programs on the nature and extent of criminal activities. The results are remarkable.

Martin Grapendaal is a social and organizational psychologist. Since 1984 he has been a researcher at the Research and Documentation Center (RDC) of The Ministry of Justice in the Netherlands, specializing in prison and drug research. Ed Leuw is a criminologist, currently employed by the RDC. His research and publications are mainly in the field of social and judicial drug policy and drug related crime. Hans Nelen is a criminologist and lawyer. Since 1986 he has been a researcher at the RDC, mainly involved in police and drug research. Recently, he has been active in the field of fraud and victimology.