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Map Tracks Movements, Mindset of Drug Addict

A study was presented at the Association of American Geographers’ annual meeting that featured the use of a map to trace the movement of a drug addict as he went through Baltimore. Clinicians from a methadone clinic gave him a GPS unit that tracked his movements every 25 meters. If he was still, his location was tracked every 25 miles.

Laura Sanders of Science News writes that the man was also given a personal digital assistant (PDA), which prompted him to answer questions about his drug use four times per day. He would answer more questions every time he used drugs.

The data was collected over an 18-week period, and researchers associated it with his geographical location. David Epstein of the National Institute on Drug Abuse presented the results on April 14th.

As the man traveled, squiggly lines traced his path and black dots represented that places where he used drugs along the way. The man was mostly in upscale neighborhoods, but he used drugs in bad parts of town.

Prior studies have shown that there is a strong link between bad neighborhoods and drug use. Epstein said that previous research has shown that those who are most likely to use drugs are white, educated, and middle- or upper-class, but those who are most likely to be addicted to drugs don’t fall into any of the categories. Studies have also shown that addicted people who move away from rough neighborhoods are less likely to relapse.

Source: US News, Laura Sanders, Mapping Drug Addicts’ Tracks, April 2010

Posted on April 20th, 2010

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