Among Long-Term Crack Smokers, Who Avoids and Who Succumbs to Cocaine Addiction?

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Crack cocaine is a highly addictive drug. To learn more about crack addiction, long-term crack smokers who had never met the DSM-IV criteria for lifetime cocaine dependence were compared with those who had. The study sample consisted of crack users (n=172) from the Dayton, Ohio, area who were interviewed periodically over 8 years. Data were collected on a range of variables including age of crack initiation, frequency of recent use, and lifetime cocaine dependence. Cocaine dependence was common with 62.8% of the sample having experienced it. There were no statistically significant differences between dependent and non-dependent users for age of crack initiation or frequency of crack use. In terms of sociodemographics, only race/ethnicity was significant, with proportionally fewer African-Americans than whites meeting the criteria for cocaine dependence. Controlling for sociodemographics, partial correlation analysis showed positive, statistically significant relationships between lifetime cocaine dependence and anti-social personality disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and lifetime dependence on alcohol, cannabis, amphetamine, sedative-hypnotics, and opioids. These results highlight the importance addressing race/ethnicity and comorbid disorders when developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions targeting people who use crack cocaine. Additional research is needed to better understand the role of race/ethnicity in the development of cocaine dependence resulting from crack use.