The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
JRG managed data collection, conducted preliminary data analysis and drafted the manuscritpt. SAN conducted the final data analysis, revised the manuscript, designed the research questions and was responsible for general coordination. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
In Brazil, crack cocaine use remains a healthcare challenge due to the rapid onset of its pleasurable effects, its ability to induce craving and addiction, and the fact that it is easily accessible. Delayed action on the part of the Brazilian Government in addressing the drug problem has led users to develop their own strategies for surviving the effects of crack cocaine use, particularly the drug craving and psychosis. In this context, users have sought the benefits of combining crack cocaine with marijuana. Our aim was to identify the reasons why users combine crack cocaine with marijuana and the health implications of doing so.
The present study is a qualitative study, using in-depth interviews and criteria-based sampling, following 27 crack cocaine users who combined its use with marijuana. Participants were recruited using the snowball sampling technique, and the point of theoretical saturation was used to define the sample size. Data were analyzed using the content analysis technique.
The interviewees reported that the combination of crack cocaine use with marijuana provided “protection” (reduced undesirable effects, improved sleep and appetite, reduced craving for crack cocaine, and allowed the patients to recover some quality of life).
Combined use of cannabis as a strategy to reduce the effects of crack exhibited several significant advantages, particularly an improved quality of life, which “protected” users from the violence typical of the crack culture.
Crack use is considered a serious public health problem in Brazil, and there are few solution strategies. Within that limited context, the combination of cannabis and crack deserves more thorough clinical investigation to assess its potential use as a strategy to reduce the damage associated with crack use.