OBJECTIVE: To establish a progression on drug use and its intervening factors among crack users. METHODS: A qualitative methodology was applied for an in-depth investigation, taking into consideration the interviewees' viewpoint of the problem. Long interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire were conducted. A purposeful sampling was outlined to create a criterion sampling. For theoretical saturation, 31 crack users and former users were interviewed. RESULTS: Two distinct phases of drug use were identified. In the first phase there predominate licit drugs, mostly alcohol and tobacco, encouraged by the parents and friends and the users' need of self-assurance. An early age start and heavy use of one or both drugs are determinant for the progression to illicit drugs. Marijuana is the first drug used in the second phase, characterized by an active attitude towards drugs which are regarded as a source of satisfaction. DISCUSSION: The progression on drug use seems to be more associated to external decisions (e.g. peer pressure, drug dealers' encouragement, etc.) than to users' preference. Two different kinds of progression were identified: in younger users (<30 years old): tobacco and/or alcohol, marijuana, snorted cocaine, and crack; in older users (>30 years old): tobacco and/or alcohol, marijuana, intravenous medication, snorted cocaine, intravenous cocaine, and crack.
Substance-related disorders; Street drugs; Smoking; Alcoholism; Crack cocaine; Drug progression; Qualitative study; Intervening factors for progression