Study Points to Differences in High-School Crack, Powder Cocaine Use

The use of crack and powder cocaine both varies and overlaps among high school seniors, researchers at New York University and NYU Langone Medical Center have found. Their findings, which appear in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, point to the need to take into account both common and different at-risk factors in developing programming and messaging to stem cocaine use.

“Powder cocaine and crack are commonly collapsed into a single ‘cocaine use’ category in research, despite different contexts of use, reasons for use and rates of dependence, and adverse outcomes associated with use,” explains Danielle Ompad, a faculty member in NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and one of the study’s co-authors.

“While powder and crack cocaine do have many similar determinants, this study helped delineate overlapping, but different risk profiles associated with use,” adds Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, Departments of Population Health and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Rates of powder cocaine and crack use have fluctuated among adolescents in recent decades, yet little attention has been paid to differences between users of powder cocaine and crack — two forms of the substance that are commonly reported together as “cocaine” use, despite having different effects and rates of negative consequences. For example, even in light of recent changes to sentencing guidelines, disparities between crack and powder cocaine remain high — possessing 500 grams of powder cocaine results in a five-year sentence while just 28 grams of crack brings on the same prison term.

Full story of crack cocaine in high school at Science Daily

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