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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The perils of crack addiction

Express staff writer Cherene L. Briggs.
 Cherene L. Briggs Staff Writer


In the mid 1980s, crack hit the streets harder than a Mike Tyson knock-out punch in the first round and quickly caught the attention of Americans—both young and old.

The outcome was that millions of Americans began flying  (getting high) and ultimately dying from this deadly drug.

According to Houghton Mifflin, crack is described as “chemically purified, very potent cocaine in pellet form that is smoked through a glass pipe and is considered highly and rapidly addictive.”

Born and raised in the south side of Sacramento, my neighborhood was considered poor.  I witnessed crack addicts walking the streets, talking to themselves and begging for money.

It was common to hear about robberies and killings on my block all in the name of crack. I’ve seen crack not only destroy the lives of its users, but the men and women who sell the drugs, and in some cases, the families of users.

“Crack messed up my life, made me drop out of school, mess up my scholarship, and made me an eight-time felon,” says a close friend of mine and one-time drug dealer, William Spotwood.

“I made unreal money, but it wasn’t worth the time I spent locked up,” says Spotwood.

Cheaper than most illegal substances crack is especially present in poor, urban neighborhoods where crime, drugs, drug dealers, prostitution, and gangs run rampant, in neighborhoods like the one I grew up in.

I consider the drug to be a universal drug as it sees no age, color, creed, or financial status. Young and old, rich and poor, black and white (and everyone else), I believe that even today, crack is being used by people all over the United States.

A famous comedian and actor named Richard Pryor began his career in the 1970s, lending his unique voice to great musicals like “The Wiz”. He starred in more than 40 feature films in all, making us laugh until our stomachs ached in movies like “Toy”, “Silver Streak”, and “Harlem Nights.”
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However, no one was laughing when he set himself on fire while high on crack. A source reported at the time that he suffered third-degree burns to the upper part of his body [face and shoulders] and mild damage to his lower body. Even after this horrible ordeal, Pryor resumed using crack.

This is the sad reality of just how powerful the drug really is and how cheating death and being given another chance at life is usually not reason enough to keep crack addicts from using again.

I know people who have sold crack. When I was younger, I actually watched a dealer make the drug. The dealer would mix pure cocaine with water and another common substance such as baking soda. The mixture was then cooked and cooled, which in turn hardened into small “rocks” (a term used in my neighborhood to identify the drug).

In my neighborhood, crack addicts never come back to reality.  They chase the dream  of feeling the way they did when they took their first hit. No longer are the crack addicts concerned with their well-being.  This tends to results in families being torn apart and children being left  parentless.

I’ve known of crack addicts that are still walking the same streets, talking to themselves, and begging for money 30 years later. However, I don’t lose hope. I know that it will not be an easy road to quit, but a life-long challenge that the user will have to work at every single day of their lives.

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in human services in 2010 was helpful as I learned that with any drug addict, the first step to recovery is admitting that they have a problem and seeking professional help.

I have always tried to support and encourage crack addicts to quit. However, people like me are not trained to deal with the psychological issues that a chronic crack user deals with.

There are drug hotlines, treatment centers, city or local health departments, support groups  and other institutions and organizations that  offer the professional help one needs to start the slow process to recovery.

I believe that crack is here to stay. It continues to destroy the lives of co-workers, friends, and family and without help, eventually leads to their demise.

Life is short, and we must make the best of it. I believe that no one deserves the hell that those addicted to crack endure. I plan to work in social services. I also want to aid in research to help overcome the addiction and counsel those who are addicted to crack.

Hopefully I can help bring crack addicts back to reality, no longer chasing a dream, but really living.

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