Current Physical Health Problems and Their Predictors Among a Community Sample of Crack-Cocaine Smokers in Ohio

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The harmful effects of nonmedical cocaine use are well documented, but the overall health of people involved with crack is less well understood. This cross-sectional study describes the nature and extent of current health problems in a community sample of 430 crack smokers in Dayton, Ohio. Two-thirds of the sample reported one or more current physical health problems. The estimated annualized incidence of acute health problems was 152.6 conditions/100 persons/year. The estimated prevalence of chronic problems ranged from a low of 30.2 conditions/1000 persons for diabetes to a high of 223.2 conditions/1000 persons for anemias. Cardiovascular problems were common. Even though the results cannot prove a cause and effect relationship between crack use and health problems, they do suggest that crack users experienced higher than usual rates of problems, when compared with data from the National Health Interview Survey. The results of a cumulative logistic regression analysis suggest that men were significantly less likely, and older users more likely, to have health problems. Neither duration of crack use nor frequency of use of any drug predicted health problems. Incorporating assessments of physical problems as well as a mechanism for their treatment into the regimen of drug abuse treatment programs should be considered.



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