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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


CHAVES, Tharcila V; SANCHEZ, Zila M; RIBEIRO, Luciana A  and  NAPPO, Solange A. Crack cocaine craving: behaviors and coping strategies among current and former users. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2011, vol.45, n.6, pp.1168-1175.  Epub Sep 02, 2011. ISSN 1518-8787.

OBJECTIVE: To understand crack cocaine craving among users and describe craving behaviors and coping strategies. METHODOLOGICAL PROCEDURES: Qualitative study with a non-random criterion sample consisting of 40 current and former crack cocaine users conducted in São Paulo, southeast Brazil, in 2007 and 2008. Respondents were selected using snowball sampling technique. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted until theoretical saturation was attained. All interviews were transcribed and content analysis was performed to construct inferences and hypotheses based on the narratives. ANALYSIS OF RESULTS: The respondents showed a similar gender distribution, were 18 to 50 years of age, and had different levels of education. Most were from low-income background. In addition to craving resulting from crack cocaine withdrawal and environmental and emotional cue effects, it was found that crack cocaine itself triggers craving. The latter appeared to be a strong trigger of binge episodes. Binge episodes made them lose their moral values, and act dangerously to get more drug. The most common ways reported to get crack cocaine or money to buy it were: prostitution, manipulation of other people, go into debt, sell personal belongings to buy drug and theft. The respondents reported strategies to overcome their cravings as well as pharmacological and behavioral approaches to prevent cravings such as eating, having sex, playing soccer, working, avoiding social situations of crack use and taking depressants. CONCLUSIONS: Crack cocaine binges are caused by a craving induced by the effects of crack cocaine itself. Users develop self-control strategies to cope with their cravings that may help improve their drug use and treatment effectiveness.

Keywords : Crack Cocaine; Substance-Related Disorders [psychology]; Behavior, Addictive; Obsessive Behavior; Qualitative Research.

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