Study Guide

Orange Is the New Black Drugs and Alcohol

By Piper Kerman

Drugs and Alcohol

Chapter 1
Piper Kerman

Since business was conducted out of town, the reality of the drugs felt like a complete abstraction to me. I didn't know anyone who used heroin; and the suffering of addiction was not something I thought about. (1.28)

Piper only thinks about how the drug trade benefits her—she gets to drive Nora's excellent new car, for example—but she doesn't think about the consequences for the people who use the drugs.

Because it was stuffed with drug money, I was more concerned than one might normally be about lost luggage. (1.1)

The drug trade isn't just made up of dealers. It's a whole industry, like the Gap or Whole Foods. Piper's job is one of courier, moving money across international borders.

Chapter 2

In the United States mandatory minimum sentencing was a critical part of the late-twentieth-century "War on Drugs." (2.50)

We can thank President Nixon for the War on Drugs.

Chapter 7
Guards and Other Officials

"It's a waste for half you people up in this Camp. Most of you drug people shouldn't even be here." (7.35)

And this is coming from Mr. Finn, one of the prison's counselors. He works in the system, and even he thinks the space would be better used for someone else other than those on drug charges. Do you agree?

Chapter 8
Other Inmates

[Allie B.] was straightforward and unapologetic about her love of narcotics. Heroin was her drug of choice, but she was willing to get high on anything and often threatened to sniff the solvents at her job in the construction shop. (8.3)

It seems like going to jail isn't enough to get Allie to rethink her chronic drug use. Could anything possibly change her mind?

Chapter 9

Early in the month there was a rush of new faces, including a clique that had smuggled in marijuana via the cootchie express. (9.61)

Yes, they smuggled the drugs in exactly the way you think they did. As Piper says, "Squat and cough doesn't really seem to work."

In the federal system alone […] there were over 90,000 prisoners locked up for drug offenses, compared with about 40,000 for violent crimes. (9.24)

More than twice as many people are locked up in jail for drugs as opposed to violent crime. Do you think there are more drug offenders (or more things considered drug offenses) than there are violent crimes, or just higher conviction rates?

Chapter 12

I had to guess that [Allie's] multiple stints in prison were due to her addiction. I worried about Allie; I certainly hoped that she would never see the inside of a prison again, but more than that, I was concerned that she would end up dead. (12.6)

Prison might actually be a safer place for Allie. At least while she's in it. They don't seem to be doing anything to actually rehabilitate her while she's there, though.

The twice-daily [detox] pill line in Danbury was always long, snaking out of the medical office into the hall. […] What would happen when they hit the streets and no longer could go to the pill line? (12.9)

The prison has half the rehab part down: weaning people off drugs. But they lack the counseling people require to stay off drugs.

Chapter 13

The Bureau of Prisons had decreed that all of its institutions were to go smoke-free by 2008. (13.4)

That's their concern? Cigarettes? Are they actually doing something good for their prisoners by enforcing a smoke-free policy, or are they focused on the wrong thing?