This post is part of a collaborative narrative series composed of my writing and Chris Arnade's photos exploring issues of addiction, poverty, prostitution and urban anthropology in Hunts Point, Bronx. For more on the series, look here.


Objectives?To examine barriers to effective drug addiction treatment for women involved in street-level prostitution.

Methods?A qualitative approach was selected to enable a detailed exploration, in an informal and unthreatening manner, of the barriers to drug addiction treatment from the women's perspective. Nine in-depth interviews were conducted with women who were involved in street-level prostitution. Transcripts of one-to-one interviews were analysed for recurrent themes using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Results?Barriers to effective addiction treatment are present at psychological, interpersonal, and wider societal levels. Themes identified included: an impoverished sense of self-worth, a lack of trust and consistency in treatment, and the absence of a comprehensive treatment package.

Conclusion?Current services could be improved by the provision of a structured treatment programme designed to target the specific physical and psychological requirements of this population. Also, efforts to correct the fictitious, negative portrayals of women involved in prostitution are required, if treatment efficacy is to be improved. ¹

The Found Toys Watch: Hunts Point, Bronx. Courtesy of Chris Arnade.

Sarah’s blonde children were taken

And the state might keep them, what for

Good if she doesn’t get clean

One way or jailed other.

For now, in her despair she fucks

Up and down in the broken bus

While the found toys watch

And her husband waits

Outside fiending,


It’s only a blow job

And blow jobs don’t count as sex

And the purple eyeshadow

She wears is for men to admire

When it’s next to their cocks only

Today her face is the sickest grey.

Please God find a dealer because

Gotti got got yesterday

And Jose don’t got nothing:

he’s always under the covers, you know,

With his kids while his ex is out.

So where, then, where for Buddha

Bless? Holy, holy hit.

The sting is made of primary colors and beige

Cadillac lookouts flash -- pause

For questioning and maybe cuffs.

The cops say, "we saw you

Go into that building, and you better tell us

Now if you went in: we know

The answer already."

No arrest, no cell block detox

Just more of this tape recorder, repetition

Life of pushing and of being


It's grimey,

The hassle and the hustle,

The things that matter about blood

Like heroin and kids.

Just find a goddamn bag,

Or just do something

To give back her innocents,

Princesses that live through

The wallpaper

Of her Obama phone.

Fiending: Hunts Point, Bronx. Courtesy of Chris Arnade.


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