Long before there was an opioid epidemic in America, concern was directed towards cocaine. Those old enough to remember the 1980’s with some detail, can tell you that cocaine and “crack” was tearing people’s lives apart. And the government’s response to the problem resulted in the American prison problem we have today. That is, more people serving time for nonviolent drug offenses than for any other crime.

For most Americans who didn’t live in proximity to where the epidemic was raging in full force, this topic may seem like something right out of a movie. Due to movies like Scarface, Americans were only given a glimpse of the violence and greed that fueled the epidemic in South Florida and New York City. The big picture, the true scope and scale of the crack cocaine scourge was never put in the spotlight. Until now.

Part of the reason that the east coast cocaine problem received the most attention was because it was the major source of cocaine in America. Cocaine from South America was trafficked to South Florida first, before being moved to rest of the U.S. As a result, the bulk of violence occurred closest to the source. The Netflix show “Narcos” did a great job of giving Americans today a glimpse of what was happening on the east coast in the 80’s. Yet, much of the cocaine coming into the United States found its way to Southern California, as well. For rich and middle class white people, powder cocaine was quite popular.

But, for blacks, Latinos and people at the bottom end of the socioeconomic ladder, Crack cocaine would be the drug of choice, being stronger and less expensive than powder cocaine.

Snowfall: Crack Cocaine in LA

A new show premiered this week of FX titled “Snowfall”, from acclaimed director John Singleton (“Boyz n the Hood” 1991). The show is meant to show what was happening in South Central LA, the director’s home turf. The show will involve multiple plot lines, including the CIA’s role in the epidemic. He told The Guardian:

“They made it easy for these people to bring in cocaine and then crack. It’s not like they did it in a diabolical way to bring black people down. They were just indifferent to the end result. The same thing is happening in the U.S. now with prescription meds and opioids. They’re doing it right now, but they’re doing it to their own people.”

Singleton wanted to focus on the often forgotten (by the media) west coast problem with crack cocaine. The main character of Snowfall is named Franklin, loosely based on Singleton’s own experience. Singleton goes to college though, Franklin becomes a dealer.

“I was like ‘What can I do?… I got it! We’ll do something about how cocaine changed everything in LA.’ Because you have these stories, these various drug stories in different mediums, from film to TV that have been told, Singleton said in an interview with UPROXX. “It’s always from Miami or the East Coast version of it. The West Coast version of it has never really been told, ever. Ever. Until now.”

Snowfall can be watched on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX. You can view the trailer for Snowfall below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Opioids will continue to be priority number one in America today. But it is worth remembering that cocaine continues to be a serious problem across the country. Despite garnering less attention. If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine addiction, please contact Guardian IOP. We can help stop the cycle of addiction and show you how living a life in recovery is possible.


Reviewed for accuracy by:

Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.