For most users, cocaine and crack cocaine have waned in popularity in favor of methamphetamine. Meth use has skyrocketed in the past couple of decades and is much easier than cocaine to manufacture and distribute, and can easily be made in makeshift “labs,” employing household items that can easily be obtained at the store. Pure, powder cocaine is also much more expensive than meth and has a street value that most addicts can’t afford, thus the switch.
Crack still retains some of its popularity because it’s easier to make and less expensive than regular cocaine, but it only produces about a 30 minute high whereas a good meth high can last up to 4-5 hours. If you were addicted to stimulants, which would you choose? Disregarding availability and other factors, the answer is obvious. Despite this, cocaine and crack are still some of the most popular drugs out there, especially in urban areas, and cocaine will always be considered the preferred stimulant among the monied elite.
According to the The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2008 there were 1.9 million current cocaine users, of which approximately 359,000 were current crack users. Adults aged 18 to 25 years have a higher rate of current cocaine use than any other age group, with 1.5 percent of young adults reporting past month cocaine use. Men have been reported to have higher cocaine use than women overall. Those numbers have only fluctuated slightly over the years, so it is apparent that cocaine and crack use are still a significant public health problem.
The most dangerous thing about crack is how easy it is to make. Crack can be made with cocaine, distilled water, and ammonia or baking soda. That’s it. The crack epidemic of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s really put crack on the map, with famous rappers rapping about in in hit songs (i.e. Notorious BIG’s ‘Ten Crack Commandments’), as well as a new revenue source for gangs. The extremely euphoric and intense high produced by crack made it highly popular by word of mouth, and thousands of people quickly became addicted.
Although crack use has waned since the hey-day of its popularity back in the ‘80s/’90s, it is still a major public health and criminal issue that we should be adamant about stopping. Treatment and counseling for addicts should be our number one concern, as well as getting these harmful substances off our streets. Most people who become addicted to crack do so because of the impoverished conditions in which they are living. Cocaine will always probably be a “rich man’s drug,” as it is colloquially known, and will retain popularity among the drug-using upper class.