trap house

What is a “Trap House”?

Early use of the term “trap house” became interchangeable with the term “crack house”. A “trap house” is a general term for a “drug house” and is typically associated with being located in a bad neighborhood. There are a lot of stereotypes that come into play when a person is talking about a “trap house” as, in many instances, the assumption of being located in a low-income neighborhood that has a high percentage of minority populations. 

What Exactly is a Trap House?

The term trap house was originally used to describe a crack house in an undesirable neighborhood. It is also commonly referred to as a “bando” which is short for abandoned house. Trap houses are a drug dealer’s place of business—or a type of marketplace where individuals buy, sell, and use drugs.

Trap houses are established to address two principal issues that drive junkies or illegal drug users—shelter and a constant supply of drugs. Trap houses satisfy both of these requirements by offering a location where drug users may relax and purchase narcotics in arm’s reach. They are more or less ‘trapped’ in the house. Even if they leave for whatever reason, they will be enticed back to the convenience of the trap house.

trap house

How “Trap Houses” Operate

In some circumstances, a “trap house” is simply a physical structure such as a house, abandoned structure, or other housing, that is used for drug-related purposes. Some individuals who have substance abuse disorders are known to use trap houses as a place to hide drugs so that if they have a stop and frisk encounter with law enforcement while under the influence they will not have drugs on their person. They can then later return to the trap house to use more of their drug stash covertly. 

A trap house can be a place where drug dealers sell drugs. In this scenario, those who abuse drugs have a known location to go to acquire their preferred drug of choice. 

In other instances, a trap house is more of a homemade drug lab where “cooks” make batches of illegal substances such as methamphetamine (“meth”). Not all trap houses are places where drugs are “cut” or “cooked”. 

What Drugs are Sold Out of Trap Houses?

There is no exception as to what drugs can be sold out of trap houses. Heroin, meth, cocaine, crack cocaine, fentanyl, and prescription pills are all common substances that come out of these homes. It all depends on the drug dealer doing business out of the trap house and what drugs they have at the time.

Growing up in a “Trap House”

Use of the word “trap” has been reclaimed by those who grew up in low-income housing and other disenfranchised circumstances as a means of explaining that they grew up in a “trap” that was difficult to escape. Those who grew up in a “trap” are likely to have been exposed to negative behaviors that result from an impoverished upbringing. A person who is familiar with growing up in a “trap” environment may have stories about exposure to drug dealing in their community and gang-related violence. 

Why “Trap Houses” Exist

Sometimes trap houses are the only option for a place to sleep for people who are homeless or have lost everything as a result of their addiction. 

A trap house can be a drug dealer’s home where a person who is a regular buyer pays to stay while they are using drugs and potentially to sleep for the night. 

There are instances where a person who is a homeowner allows a drug dealer to stay at their house and, as a result of addiction, that homeowner becomes indebted to the drug dealer and ends up turning over the property to them in order to continue their addiction. In this scenario, the homeowner with an addition becomes “trapped” in their own home. 

trap house

In a situation where a person is “cooking” meth, the kitchen is taken over. This is problematic for numerous reasons. Homemade meth releases extremely noxious chemicals and a property that has previously been used for the production of meth needs to be professionally cleaned and certified as safe because all the chemicals essentially poison the environment. 

Individuals who turn to living in tent encampments may have previously stayed in a trap house. While it may be hard to imagine choosing to live outside and battle the elements as opposed to having a roof over your head, this goes to show just how frightening and unsafe the environment in a trap house can become. 

Trap houses are places that are known for large numbers of addicts wandering around like zombies as a result of fentanyl abuse. Dealing with other drug addicts creates an environment that is full of lies, deceit, stealing, and the threat of physical violence or sexual assault. 

What Cities Have the Most Trap Houses?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug abuse is still a big issue in the United States, where more than 10 percent of the population over the age of 12 used an illegal drug in the last month Despite numerous efforts to educate people about drug abuse and address it, drug abuse appears to be getting worse. The following are U.S. cities where trap houses are likely a huge problem.

Baltimore, Maryland

In addition to the issues of poverty and unemployment, Baltimore is now facing a severe substance abuse problem. Heroin and suboxone are the most frequently abused substances in the city, accounting for one out of every ten individuals being dependent on heroin. The federal government designated the city a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area because of its heroin problem, which has been referred to as the “U.S. Heroin Capital” by ABC News.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago ranks third in the U.S. in terms of population, with a population of 2,711,000. Chicago’s economy is dominated by transportation, technology, and management companies, but the poverty rate is higher than the national rate, at 19.1%. Heroin is the most common drug of abuse in Chicago, accounting for a whopping 1,425 emergency room visits in the city. Heroin, cocaine, prescription opioids, methamphetamine, and marijuana are the most abused drugs in Chicago. Drug sales and distribution are controlled in Chicago by Mexican drug gangs, which import heroin from Colombia and Mexico.

Dayton, Ohio

Dayton is the 6th biggest city in Ohio, but it has the most severe drug problems in the state. There are over 140,000 residents. The economy of Dayton focuses on lodging and food services, manufacturing, and healthcare. Although the economy focuses on accommodations and food services, manufacturing, and healthcare, the poverty rate is 34.5%, and drug use is severe. According to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, 282 accidental drug overdose deaths were documented in 2017, making Dayton the location with the most drug overdose deaths. The most frequently abused drugs, which include opioids, heroin, darvon, cocaine, and fentanyl, were responsible for the most fatalities.

trap house

Detroit, Michigan

Michigan’s largest city, Detroit, is home to more than 670,000 citizens, 35.7% of whom live in poverty. Manufacturing, administration, and waste management services are the city’s key sectors. Because of Detroit’s struggling economy, high crime rate, and high poverty rate, drug problems are common. Detroit drug issues are predominantly related to heroin (often mixed with fentanyl), artificial opioids, and prescription drugs and synthetic marijuana referred to as ‘spice.’ To authorities, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl are the most frequently reported drugs.

How to Identify a Trap House

Because of the low-income areas in which they are often found, trap houses are most often abandoned houses. It’s relatively easy to spot them because people come and go all hours of the day and night. Police have a difficult time arresting dealers because whenever they hear that the police are on to them, they leave in a hurry, packed up and moved to a different location or house. Users and dealers seldom stay in the same residence for more than a week. They constantly commute.

Have Trap Houses Contributed to the Ongoing Drug Epidemic?


According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), illicit substances account for nearly 20 million cases of substance abuse problems in the United States. The most trafficked drugs in the United States, as identified by American Addictions Centers in 2016, include meth (33.6%), cocaine (19.8%), marijuana (17.6%), and heroin (14.4%). Trap houses frequently sell and use these drugs.

Trap houses have been witnessing an increasing number of fatal/severe overdoses in recent years, as heroin use has increased and fentanyl is becoming increasing present in drugs. A recent news report, for example, described the tragic death of a 20-year-old who overdosed on heroin in a trap house.

trap house

Getting Out of The Trap

Trap Life

Life in a trap house is about as bad as a person can get when it comes to addiction. Those who have had long-term addictions struggle to find ways to imagine getting their life back on track. One obstacle involves the conditions that are required by homeless shelters and transitional housing. Usually, the primary obstacle is that a person must be drug-free. This can create a Catch-22 situation. Getting out of the trap is difficult when you do not have a safety net to protect you from yourself. 

Tent Communities

Tent communities are sometimes a way for those who are still using drugs to find a place with a certain level of security. Tent community spaces often have rules that involve a form of contribution to the community in order to remain in this transitional space. Those in the community are often allowed to continue drug and alcohol abuse but not on the premises. 

Sober Houses and Transitional Spaces 

In a sober transitional house, it is usually required that you pay a form of rent. This may initially come as contributions to the household in the form of chores. Sober houses often impose extremely strict rules for the sake of the others living in the space. Those who enter a sober house are often required to attend daily meetings, engage in group therapy, or perform other tasks. Rules may include not being able to leave the house except for purposes that are permitted by the person who runs the sober house. Bedtimes are often enforced. Rules surrounding meal preparation and meal times may be strictly enforced. 

In many instances, the overall goal of a sober house or related transitional living situation is intended to create a sense of routine. Unfortunately, for some individuals, these situations can feel extremely daunting. It’s worth keeping in mind that your housemates are likely dealing with their own recovery and mental health challenges. This results in a household that is filled with a great deal of tension and it can feel like a powder keg, at times. 

Ask around, people will tell you that it’s possible to make it out of the trap. You have the power to choose to break free from the cycle of abuse and addiction. 

Oasis Recovery Can Help You

It’s essential that you put your well-being and personal safety first. If you are ready to turn your life around, an addiction recovery treatment program could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to create a better life and future for yourself. Call the professionals at Oasis Recovery today!

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