Drug Use and Prostitution

Data on the number of prostitutes related to drug use is very hard to compile. Most studies that have attempted to quantify prostitution and drug use are from more than 20 years ago. Availability of drugs and more users has skyrocked since then both within prostitution and non prostitution populations. And while there is no data to prove it I bet the rate of drug use for street hookers which is mostly what studies find after they have been arrested is far higher than the private professional sexworker that you rarely hear about unless its a big national story.

The Journal of Sex Research in 1998 article " Pathways to Prostitution: The Chronology of Sexual and Drug Abuse Milestones." quoted am almost 30 years ago, 1979 study:
Although the association of prostitution with sexual and substance abuse in the United States has long been noted (Goldstein, 1979), data on the chronology of sexual and drug abuse milestones in the lives of prostitute women are inconsistently reported and derived from convenience samples. Goldstein estimated that 40% to 85% of prostitutes were drug users; in addition, he reported that among higher class prostitute women, prostitution tended to precede substance abuse, while in lower class prostitutes, the reverse tended to be true (Goldstein, 1979).

Sexually Transmitted Diseases:Volume 26(2)February 1999pp 93-94:
Our own inquiries into the antecedents of prostitution (admittedly collected from women) indicate that prostitution entry is likelier to be caused by psychological than socioeconomic factors. In a representative, cross-sectional study of prostitutes in Colorado Springs we empirically demonstrated that drug abuse is pervasive and antecedent to prostitution,4 that drug abuse itself implies psychological morbidity, and that drug abuse pervasiveness is the etiologic cue that prostitution (at least for women in the developed world) is likelier to be caused by characterological/psychological than socioeconomic factors.5 Our sense is that persons who enter prostitution are generally a small subset of substance abusers whose psychological characteristics (not yet elucidated) permit them to engage in prostitution. Just as it is a small minority of persons with histories of childhood sexual abuse who eventually enter prostitution, so it is that only a minority of substance abusers, including injection drug users,6 engage in prostitution to support their drug habit.

4. Potterat JJ, Rothenberg RB, Muth SQ, Darrow WW, Phillips-Plummer L. Pathways to prostitution: the chronology of sexual and drug abuse milestones. J Sex Res 1998; 35:333-340.
5. Potterat JJ, Phillips L, Rothenberg RB, Darrow WW. On becoming a prostitute: an exploratory case-comparison study. J Sex Res 1985; 21:329-335.
6. Lewis DK, Watters JK. Sexual risk behavior among heterosexual intravenous drug users: ethnic and gender variation. AIDS 1991; 5:77-82
Although high rates of drug use have been documented among prostitutes, the relationship between drug use and prostitution is far from clear. Studies have demonstrated higher rates of drug abuse among women with a history of prostitution among female arrestees Source: Kuhns JB, Heide KM, Silverman I: Substance use/misuse among female prostitutes and female arrestees. International Journal of the Addictions 27:1283-1292, 1992[Medline]
Pathways Into Prostitution Among Female Jail Detainees and Their Implications for Mental Health Services
Psychiatr Serv 50:1606-1613, December 1999
Just more than half the sample (51.4 percent) met criteria for moderate or severe cocaine or opiate abuse or dependence. The average age at the first symptom was 22.8 years. Hispanics were significantly less likely to be diagnosed as having heroin or cocaine abuse or dependence (35.3 percent) than were African Americans (51.9 percent), whites (55.5 percent), and others (66.7 percent). African Americans reported experiencing the first symptoms of substance abuse or dependence at a slightly later age than others. Prevalence of drug abuse did not vary by level of education, although high school dropouts had a somewhat younger age of onset of drug abuse.

In summary, the bivariate analyses suggested that all three variables—sexual abuse, having run away, and drug abuse—predicted entry into prostitution.