DR. WALLACE: Please give me the straight story on crack cocaine, as I do not know anything about it. I'm currently dating a guy who tells me he's using crack regularly, and he claims that he smokes it! What exactly is it? Just how dangerous can it be? — Uninformed, Baltimore, Maryland
UNINFORMED: Crack cocaine is a highly addictive drug, the use of which can cause serious health problems and even death. Because it is so inexpensive, crack has had a devastating impact on many communities with prevalent drug use since it came on the scene about 35 years ago. Crack cocaine is unfortunately within virtually anyone's economic reach.
Crack is frequently purchased ready-to-use in rock form. When smoked, it is quick absorbed into the bloodstream and reaches the brain in a matter of seconds. The short-term effects of cocaine include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils and increased temperature, creating feelings of restlessness, irritability and anxiety. In rare instances, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest.
As with other forms of cocaine, smoking crack can increase an individual's heart rate and blood pressure, leading to long-term cardiovascular problems. Some research suggests that smoking crack or freebase cocaine has even more health risks than using other methods of taking cocaine.
My advice is to stay as far away from crack cocaine as possible. And yes, if your "boyfriend" is using it regularly, you need to move on from the relationship immediately for your own safety and well-being.
YOU ARE VIEWED AS A THREAT
DR. WALLACE: I really need your device. I used to have two close girlfriends. All three of us are 16 years old, but about a month ago, both of the other two girls told me they would no longer be friends with me because they thought I was trying to steal their boyfriends. That's absolutely not true. It just so happens that I enjoy talking with boys. I can't help it if their boyfriends are friendly to me and sometimes strike up innocent conversation. I have never seen these boys on a date nor attended any social function at all with them. I don't understand why my girlfriends can't understand this, even though I've explained it to them several times. What should I do now? — Friendless, Portland, Oregon
FRIENDLESS: These ex-girlfriends are actually giving you a "backhanded" compliment. They feel that you possess charm, wit, beauty and intelligence, which in their eyes makes you a definite threat who may steal away their boyfriends. They will likely calm down and feel much better about you when they see you find a boyfriend of your own.
At your age, friends are fickle, and that cuts both ways. They may be down on you now, but things may change for the better sooner than you think. So stay respectful and upbeat. Oh, and when you do find that boyfriend of your own, be sure to introduce him to your girlfriends, as his presence may ease their worried minds.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.