Documenting practices and perceptions of 'safer' crack use: a Canadian pilot study

Int J Drug Policy. 2008 Aug;19(4):339-41. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2007.06.005. Epub 2007 Aug 3.


Background: People who smoke crack cocaine have a distinct social profile when compared to other drug user groups (e.g., injection drug users), may be at increased risk for particular health problems and experience unique social harms as a consequence of their crack use. In particular, they are exposed to dangers associated with unsafe crack pipe use and lack resources to enable safer consumption practices. The objectives of this pilot study were to determine the current practices of people who smoke crack in Vancouver and to discover common attitudes towards the modification of crack smoking practices in the direction of safer crack use.

Methods: Members of a community coalition administered a short survey to street-entrenched crack cocaine users regarding their smoking equipment, their current crack smoking practices, the physical consequences of smoking crack and their attitudes towards safer crack use.

Results: Most respondents engaged in 'unsafe' crack use practices and experienced harmful consequences associated with crack use. Those who shared their equipment were at higher risk for experiencing these harmful consequences.

Conclusion: The information from this study suggests that strategies aimed at reducing the harms associated with crack use, as well as safer crack use education and programming, should be incorporated into substance misuse interventions, disease prevention and health promotion policy, and that further research about these issues is needed.

MeSH terms

  • British Columbia
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Crack Cocaine / administration & dosage
  • Crack Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Documentation / methods*
  • Harm Reduction*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Perception*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Health Practice / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Crack Cocaine