In the 1980s, a new drug emerged. Because of its cheap cost and quick and intense high, crack cocaine quickly gained popularity among users, especially in poor urban areas. Within two decades, the crack had exacted a heavy toll, leaving serious physical and emotional side effects not only on its users, but on entire communities and on the United States as a whole.

­ In this article, we'll explain how crack is made, what effects it has on the body and how law enforcement and health officials are working to stem its spread.

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