In one of the first studies to clearly link violent behavior and crack cocaine use, a new survey reports that nearly 50% of the callers to a nationwide cocaine hot line acknowledged committing violent crimes or aggressive acts, ranging from murder and robbery to rape, child abuse and physical assaults.
About two-thirds of those reporting such violent behavior acknowledged doing so while using the drug rather than during withdrawal. Mark Gold, a cocaine researcher who conducted the study, said violence during drug use shows the marked differences between crack users and heroin addicts, who tend to resort to violence in order to support their habits.
The survey, conducted among 600 callers to the national toll-free cocaine hot line last fall, buttresses the argument of law enforcement officials that the current wave of drug-related violence now sweeping the District of Columbia and other cities is primarily attributable to the rapid spread of crack cocaine that began three years ago.
For example, 31% of the callers described “uncontrollable violence” as one of the effects of their drug use and 17% admitted to carrying a firearm. Of those who said they committed criminal or aggressive acts while using cocaine or crack, 45% said their behavior involved violent arguments.