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Cracked Up:
Crack Cocaine is Still in High Schools
Author: Peter Castillo

I had known J since my freshman year at Watsonville 
high school but I never knew he smoked crack until my 
senior year in December. One day when I was going to 
the bathroom at school J was talking to a friend of 
his I didn’t know. Then J showed 2 crack crystals to 
the friend. After I saw that I didn’t talk to J as 
much and we have drifted apart because it was 
apparent J wanted to fry his brain and I didn’t.
Crack today isn’t as popular as it used to be, but 
people like J still use it.
 “Crack is not as popular as it was in the mid 80’s,” 
said Jason Murphy, a drug and alcohol counselor for 
the Y.E.S. (Youth Experiencing Success) school, a 
clean and sober school for drug addicted teens. “I 
think drugs tend to go out of style as time passes. 
Methamphetamines are more popular today than crack.” 
Even though crystal meth is the popular drug right 
now, teenagers are still using crack locally and all 
over the nation. According to the 2004 National 
Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 7.8 
million Americans ages 12 and older reported trying 
crack at least once during their lifetimes, 
representing 3.3% of the population ages 12 and 
“I’d say about 25% [of patients] were at Narconon 
because they were addicted to crack cocaine,” said 
Mark Wenzel of Narconon.
I came into contact with “S”, a 27-year-old former 
crack addict, who was using a variety of drugs when 
he was in high school. S was a freshman when he 
started using marijuana, after his father died. 
“When I was 14 the drug use started for me,” S 
said. “I used drugs to cope with those problems that 
I was dealing with and my dad passing away.”
Over time he started taking hallucinogens. Next he 
started taking ecstasy. Then, he made a big change.
“I went to treatment at 16 but I felt like I was too 
young to stop taking drugs,” S said. “I was clean for 
22 months and realized that . . . I wasn’t going to 
stay clean.” 
During his senior year, when he was 18 years old, S 
started to use crack.
“I turned to crack cocaine to keep me up through the 
long nights of drinking,” S said. “I always told 
myself that I would never smoke crack. I mean you 
totally make a transformation into someone you’re 
totally not.” 
A few years later S realized that if he continued to 
take crack, it would be too late to turn back. He 
knew that he had to make one last transformation back 
to the person he was meant to be. 
“The biggest problem was when the drug stopped 
working I couldn’t run from myself . . . (drugs) are 
only a temporary solution to your problems.”
By the time he realized that he had a drug problem he 
knew it was time to get help from the pain of this 
“I came to realize that I was unhappy,” S said. “I 
felt like I got to a point. It was a turning point of 
where I saw I was going toward death, a place where I 
wouldn’t return.”
S went to Narconon, a drug rehabilitation clinic for 
youth and adults that helped him kick his drug 
“Narconon has saved my life,” S said. “They restored 
me back to the true self I really was. They taught me 
how to confront my problems instead of running away 
from them so I could overcome them and no longer try 
to run from myself. Amazingly enough I found answers 
in myself. I no longer had a desire or will to use 
drugs ever again.”
Murphy said the signs of someone using crack are, 
sleeplessness, reduction in appetite and eating, loss 
of weight, paranoia, and increased energy.
If you ever see someone using crack in the bathroom, 
or anywhere else, you should try to get them help, 
especially if they are your friends. I didn’t get the 
opportunity to help my friend J and now I regret it.