OBJECTIVE: To map treatment trajectories in a sample of male and female crack users through their narratives about the course of treatment seeking and their attempts to access health care services in Brazil. METHODS: Qualitative study of a purposive sample (five female and nine male hospitalized crack users) using semi-structured interviews. The interviews were transcribed and data explored using content analysis. RESULTS: Respondents reported difficulties getting access to hospitalization, relapse after discharge, and abandonment of treatment. There seems to be a peculiar model of behavior for women and men while dealing with craving for crack: while women got involved with prostitution and consequently became infected with HIV, every men of the sample reported criminal involvement. CONCLUSIONS: The relationship between relapse and a social environment conducive to consumption, associated with belief or disbelief in spiritual support, prostitution, and the legal complications arising from the use of crack, are relevant issues and should be taken into consideration in the development of preventive actions aimed at this specific population.
Treatment; crack; drug users; treatment services; treatment access; qualitative study