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Drug use by adolescents who seek outpatient care: Comparison between crack and other illegal drugs: A pilot study

Drug use by adolescents who seek outpatient care: Comparison between crack and other illegal drugs: A pilot study

Revista ABP APAL (Associacao Brasileira de Psiquiatria Asociacion Psiquiatrica de la America Latina) 19(1): 7-17

A Brazilian epidemiologic research showed a stabilization of adolescents' drug use, however there was an increase in cocaine use. Because the use of crack in Brazil is recent - the first articles are from 1991 - there are few studies about it. The problems caused by crack use are more severe than those caused by other drugs. This is a study of the characteristics of adolescents who looked for treatment for alcohol/drug abuse or dependence, comparing crack users with other drugs' users. Twenty-one patients, with ages between 11 and 17 and who looked for outpatient treatment in a tertiary center for drug abuse were studied. The results were analyzed qualitatively, by contingence tables. Age of first use, patterns of use, drug multiple consumption, sexual behavior and problems caused by drug consumption were studied. The major of the total sample (85,7%) was male. The age of first use was around 11 years old with alcohol consumption, hastily followed by tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, opiates, snorted cocaine and crack around 14 years old. Excluding tobacco, the drugs that were more used were alcohol, marijuana, snorted cocaine, inhalants and crack in this sequence. It is different from the results of national epidemiologic researches that showed inhalants, marijuana, anticholinergics and snorted cocaina as the most used drugs by Brazilian adolescents of general population. Patients used an average of three different drugs: alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Of the whole sample, 57.1% used crack and more than half of them were regular users. Crack users had more complication as well as more severe loses in school, illegal activities involvement and family problems than other drug users. Differently of that found for other drugs, regular consumption of crack was associated with problems occurrence in 100% of cases. It is important to remember that the studied sample is small. The main conclusions were: inhalants users need for treatment was small than would be expected based on its frequent consumption among adolescents of general population; crack use begins in the finals stages of drug consumption and causes more severe loses than other drugs, which consists mainly in school and family problems, as well as illegal activities involvement; apparently, female drug users look for treatment less frequently than male users. These results point to some aspects that have to be studied by quantitative researches, with more numerous samples.

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