This study compared gender differences in a non-treatment sample of crack cocaine users interested in participating in a research study on addiction. Data was collected from initial telephone screening interviews of women and men responding to cocaine research recruitment in a midwest urban environment over a two-year period. Female respondents (n = 88) were age- and race-matched with men interviewed over the same time period, for a total sample size of 176. Mean age of the female sample was 33 years and the majority were African-American. Basic demographics were similar for both genders. Respondents had first used cocaine at 24 years of age and currently smoked 2 g cocaine/day for 5 days/week, a rate higher than that found in many treatment samples. Women were found to have significantly higher rates of cigarette smoking, headaches and history of suicidal ideation, and significantly more women reported emergency room visits following crack use than did men. Equal numbers of men and women had been convicted of a crime (56%), with significantly fewer women reporting having committed a crime involving violence. Nearly all respondents (94%) reported that crack use had negative effects on their value systems, and significant numbers of both genders reported involvement with bartering crack and sex. Two-thirds of women able to become pregnant used no method of birth control and the use of barrier methods was infrequent. Forty-two percent admitted to using cocaine during pregnancy. These data indicate that while patterns of crack use per se do not differ between women and men in this sample, community outreach programs may benefit from focusing on other associated behaviors that do show differences between genders.
- Gender differences