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How cocaine use affects violence.

Contrary to earlier findings, research reveals that there is little connection between the way drug users ingest cocaine--by smoking, injecting, or snorting--and their levels of violent behavior. "Most of the previous studies showed that the more intense the form of cocaine used, the more the violence was displayed. However, much to our surprise, our study showed that the form of cocaine doesn't mean very much," reports A. James Giannini, professor of clinical psychiatry, Ohio State University. He worked with Norman S. Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College; Robert Loiselle, profess of psychology in psychiatry, Northeastern Ohio Universities' College of Medicine; and Carlton E. Turner, president, Princeton Diagnostic Laboratories of America. They did find a connection between the form of cocaine ingestion and "spur of the moment" violence, such as hitting objects or people. Yet, there was no connection at all between the route of cocaine administration and premeditated violence, such as armed robbery or rape.

The researchers evaluated 101 men and women who came to mental health outpatient centers for treatment of cocaine addiction. The patients, who participated in the study voluntarily, were interviewed personally and also asked to fill out questionnaires anonymously regarding age, route of administration, and the effect of cocaine on their behavior.

"Since crack gets into the blood more quickly and delivers more concentrated doses of cocaine, we thought these forms would cause the highest levels of violence. But generally this wasn't true," Giannini notes.

The study results revealed several associations between cocaine and violence that were not related to the form of the drug. For one, cocaine users as a group were more violent than non-users. The researchers also noted a difference in the types of violent behavior exhibited by men and women that varied according to circumstances or sexual roles. Male cocaine users, for instance, were more likely to report high levels of anger, which they generally acted on, while females were more likely to abuse children. "In our society, men are typically allowed to express anger more freely than women and women have more access to children."
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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