targeting crack babies through information

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Crack Facts

Crack Myths

 

 

Crack Myths

Myth #1: Children whose mothers smoked crack during gestation are neurologically damaged. They don't develop emotionally or intellectually.

Fact: The assertions claiming that children who have been exposed to crack cocaine before birth are permanently damaged are unsubstantiated. Numerous studies have shown that there is very little conclusive evidence to support the "crack baby" myth. The pervasive nature of this myth makes it extremely difficult for babies who have been exposed to crack to receive adequate medical attention. As a result, there has been a recent push in the medical community to combat the "crack baby" myth.

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Myth #2: Crack is purer than powder cocaine, and is more potent.

Fact: There is no pharmacological difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Crack cocaine is simply powder cocaine which has been converted into a solid "rock" form that may be smoked. The effects of smoking crack cocaine may be more intense, but this is a result of the mode of ingestion rather than the drug's purity. Regardless, it is difficult to rationalize the extreme sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine.

Source:
Hatsukami, D. and Fischman, M. Crack cocaine and cocaine hydrochloride: are the differences myths or reality?. Journal of the American Medical Association (November 1996).

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Myth #3: To use crack once can lead to instant addiction.

Fact: While crack cocaine is addictive, it is extremely unlikely that one would become addicted after one use. 2004 statistics from the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 7,840,000 (3.3%) of Americans have smoked crack cocaine during their lifetime. However, only 467,000 (.2%) of Americans reported smoking crack cocaine in the last 30 days. If crack was instantaneously addictive, the number of recent users would be much larger.

Source:
SAMHSA. Results from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables.

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Myth #4: Crack is much more addictive than powder cocaine.

Fact: There is very little evidence to support the claims that crack is more addictive than cocaine. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse in 2004 of Americans age 12 and older, 5.9% of individuals who had ever tried cocaine went on to be "current users" (reported use within the past 30 days). The same statistic for crack use was also 5.9%. These numbers show no statistical difference in the tendency towards the future use of cocaine and crack.

Source:
Reinerman, C. and Levine H., Crack in America. University of California Press (September 1997).

2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings.

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Myth #5: Crack use is much more dangerous than powder and kills its users more often.

Fact: The misuse of any drug (legal or illegal) may be detrimental to the health of an individual. However, it is erroneous to claim that the use of crack cocaine alone is a major cause of death. In fact, in 2000 the percentage of deaths attributed to ALL illegal drugs was .7%. In comparison, 435,000 deaths (18.1%) were caused by tobacco in the same year. Claims that crack use is a leading cause of death are, for the most part, unsubstantiated.

Source:
Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. American Medical Association (2004).

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Myth #6: Crack is used almost exclusively by Blacks and is a special plague of the Black community.

Fact: While often characterized as a drug of the Black community, 60% of individuals who have used crack in the last month are White. White crack users also account for 66% of individuals who have ever used crack in their lifetime. Simply stated, the majority of crack users are White.
Despite this reality, 80% of people arrested for crack offenses in 2002 were Black. Consequently, a disproportionate number of Black crack offenders face the harsh mandatory minimums associated with crack convictions.

Source:
SAMHSA. Results from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2003. Table 1.4.

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Myth #7: Crack use leads to violence much more than the use of other drugs.

Fact: The claims that crack induces violence are grossly exaggerated. Research has shown that crack use does not necessarily result in violent behavior. Most of the violence related to crack is a result of the drug's status as an illegal substance. Violence is rarely a result of the pharmacological effects of the drug, and is most often attributed to the violent nature of the illegal drug market.

Source:
Reinerman, C. and Levine H., Crack in America. University of California Press (September 1997).

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Eric E. Sterling, J.D., President, CJPF
2006

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