The High Price of Abuse

Crack is cocaine intensified. Its effects are cocaine's--but amplified, sharper, meaner, uglier. The assault on the body, brain and nervous system occurs in swifter, more profound fashion. "Crack, even more than plain cocaine, puts users at extremely high risk," says Dr. Nicholas Masi of the cocaine addiction treatment center in Plantation, Fla.

Crack's immediate effects are readily observable: chronic sore throats and hoarseness are common. Crack can leave a user gasping for breath and vulnerable to emphysema. But these complaints pale in comparison with the even more dangerous changes that crack triggers in the body. Crack, says Masi, "throws the entire...

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