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Am J Addict. 2012 Jul-Aug;21(4):370-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2012.00245.x. Epub 2012 May 16.

Crack users show high rates of antisocial personality disorder, engagement in illegal activities and other psychosocial problems.

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  • 1Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil.


The aim of this study was to compare three groups of Brazilian psychoactive substance (PAS) abuse patients (crack cocaine users, cocaine snorters, and non-cocaine PAS users) in terms of psychiatric comorbidities and severity of psychosocial problems. A cross-sectional, multi-center study was conducted at five Brazilian research centers. A total of 738 current PAS abusers seeking specialized treatment (outpatient and inpatient clinics) were assessed using the sixth version of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI-6): 293 patients using crack cocaine were compared with 126 using powder cocaine and 319 using non-cocaine PAS (mostly alcohol and marijuana). Psychiatric comorbidities were assessed in a smaller sample (290 cases), originating from three of the centers, using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview Plus (MINI-Plus). Crack and powder cocaine users were significantly younger than non-cocaine PAS users (31.1 ± 8.1 and 32.9 ± 8.8 vs. 42.4 ± 12, respectively; p < .001). Crack users presented a higher rate of antisocial personality disorder (25%) than powder cocaine (9%) and non-cocaine PAS users (9%), even when adjusted for confounding factors (Pr = 2.6; 95% CI 1.10-6.40). According to ASI-6 summary scores, crack users presented a significantly higher rate of occupational, family, and legal problems and reported more illegal and violent activities such as burglary and theft (23%) and threatening or assaulting (32%) than non-cocaine PAS users. Our findings, combined with the recent increase observed in the prevalence of crack use in Brazil, highlight the severity of psychiatric symptoms and psychosocial problems related to this powerful drug and corroborate the already suggested association between crack/cocaine, violence, and legal problems. Treatment programs for crack users should routinely consider the possibility of associated psychiatric comorbidities, such as antisocial personality disorder, which may affect treatment outcomes.

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