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Profile of Help-seeking Crack Cocaine Users in Brazil

A Comparison of 2 Cross-sectional Studies From 1997 and 2013

Perrenoud, Luciane O. BSc*; Trevizol, Alisson P. PhD; Schmidt de Oliveira, Ana C. BSc*; Williams, Anna V. BSc, MSc, PhD; Cordeiro, Quirino MD, PhD*; Duailibi, Sérgio M. MD, PhD*; Laranjeira, Ronaldo MD, PhD*; Ribeiro, Marcelo MSc, MD, PhD*

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: December 2019 - Volume 18 - Issue 4 - p 238–245
doi: 10.1097/ADT.0000000000000173
Original Articles

Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the characteristics of treatment-seeking crack cocaine users in Brazil in 1996/1997 and 2012/2013.

Methods: We analyzed data from 2 cross-sectional studies conducted 16 years apart. The first study (performed 1996-1997) included 133 crack users. The second study (performed 2012-2013) included 577 crack users. An interview based on the Intake Questionnaire and the Maudsley Addiction Profile was performed to examine sociodemographic characteristics and patterns of drug use. In both surveys, criminal and treatment history were collected.

Results: The mean age of users increased from 27.3 years (SD=7.9) in 1997 to 30.8 years in 2013 (SD=7.7). The number of individuals with a high school diploma was >3 times higher in 2013, (11.7% vs. 38.9%). The mean time elapsed since first use was 3.9 years (SD=2.8) in 1997 versus 9.3 years (SD=5.8) in 2013. Other differences included higher unemployment and incarceration rates in the 1997 study.

Conclusions: A change was detected in the profile of treatment-seeking crack cocaine users over the past 2 decades. Current patients appear to be older and use the drug more chronically, in addition to having a higher level of schooling and lower unemployment rates when compared with 1997 users.

*Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil

Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Addictions Department, National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK

The 2012 survey was funded by CNPq (Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) through a grant awarded to R.L. for the project entitled “Sociodemographic profile and natural history of crack consumption among users of several Brazilian states.” Process number 402762/210-0 and Announcement 41/2010—Lane I. Total financial assistance of R$462,540.00. The project was executed at Federal University of São Paulo (CNPJ 60.453.032/0001-74).

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Luciane O. Perrenoud, BSc, Avenida Independência, 2373, Rua 1/Casa 154, Taubaté 12032-000, São Paulo, Brazil (e-mail:

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