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Crack: info on crack cocaine and cocaine freebase
I want first to express my personal opinion that freebasing is a very bad
thing to do for your body and mind. I have seen a few people hooked on it,
and it is not a nice thing to see. I strongly disrecommend doing it. It is
easy to overdose and die of cardiac arrest. Some people doing freebase will
exhibit the same kind of behavior as those rats whose pleasure centers are
electrically stimulated: they will do it until either the supply runs out,
or until they die.
The recipes are readily available. In fact, a few years ago, police
officers would go to great lengths explaining how crack was made when given
interviews (at least in Montreal)! There was also an article in Time a few
years ago explaining the procedures.
I have never tried any of those procedures or smoked freebase, and will
never do it. The information I post comes from a used booklet I bought a
long time ago ("Cocaine Handbook", by Davis).
Crack is actually a impure form of freebase. Procedures for both
substances are based on the fact that while cocaine hydrochloride is very
soluble in water, base cocaine is almost insoluble.
Mix about 1 g of coke in 10 ml of water in a small vial. Slowly add
drops of ammonia to the solution. A white milky precipitate will form. Stop
adding ammonia when additional drops no longer result in precipitation. Add
5 ml of ethyl ether, close vial, and shake. The precipitate (freebase) will
dissolve in the ether. Siphon off the ether with a pipette (ether and water
don't mix), and slowly drip it on a plate. As the ether evaporates, white
crystals will form. This is the evil freebase. Crush the crystals and put
under a heat lamp for at least 24 hrs to let the solvent evaporate.
ETHYL ETHER IS EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE. IN THE PRESENCE OF AIR IT CAN FORM
PEROXIDES WHICH WILL SPONTANEOUSLY EXPLODE! ALSO, ETHER CAN
"CRAWL" FROM AN OPEN BOTTLE AND TRIGGER AN EXPLOSION MANY FEET
This is how Richard Pryor almost died. A lot of untrained people killed
themselves doing that procedure, and this is why crack is now more popular.
Mix 2 parts ok coke HCL for 1 part baking soda in 20 ml of water.
Heat solution gently until white precipitates form, and stop heating when
precipitation stops. Filter and keep precipitate. wash precipitate once with
water (this procedure usually omitted in street product). Dry 24 hours under
heat lamp. Voila. The product is much less pure (there is lots of baking
soda left) but the procedure is safer.
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 92 09:21:26 -0500
Subject: Crack / Rock Cocaine
Let me first say that this is also freebase. Its not as pure as the other
recipe and has a *much smaller return* than using ammonia (no one really
does the ether part, just ammonia and heat it).
[previous crack "recipe" deleted -cak]
After gentle heating, it will float to the top, any excess soda will
precipitate to the bottom. Given that, you'd never filter it, and the 24
hour heat lamp thing is unrealistic, too. Note that what you're trying to do
is start and sustain a chemical reaction (bonding the hcl with the
base-soda) so as long as the reaction is happening you don't have to
In article <1993Mar4.email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org
I suspect that freebase cocaine is probably not too bad for your
After writing this, I bopped onto Medline and yanked the following
abstracts for the sake of thoroughness:
1. Khalsa ME; Tashkin DP; Perrochet B.
Smoked cocaine: patterns of use and pulmonary consequences.
Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1992 Jul-Sep, 24(3):265-72. (UI: 93058148)
Abstract: This article offers a perspective on the use of
volatilized alkaloidal cocaine in its freebase and crack forms and on the
pulmonary consequences of such use. The inhalational route of administration
of freebase and crack cocaine exposes the lung to their combustion products,
raising concern about possible adverse pulmonary effects. A brief historical
review of cocaine and its methods of use precedes the presentation of data
concerning current modes and patterns of use and some pulmonary
complications of crack and freebase use. Results from a systematic study of
a large sample of cocaine users document a high frequency of occurrence of
acute respiratory symptoms in temporal association with cocaine smoking. No
relationship was detected between the prevalence of acute pulmonary symptoms
and identifiable aspects of techniques of cocaine administration. These
results suggest that the respiratory consequences of alkaloidal cocaine are
most likely attributable to the inhaled cocaine itself, rather than to
variable characteristics of usage.
2. Oh PI; Balter MS.
Cocaine induced eosinophilic lung disease.
Thorax, 1992 Jun, 47(6):478-9.
Abstract: A patient developed fever, bronchoconstriction,
hypoxaemia, pulmonary infiltrates, and serum and bronchoalveolar lavage
fluid eosinophilia on two occasions after inhaling crack cocaine.
Transbronchial biopsy specimens showed normal lung parenchyma but a dense
eosinophilic infiltrate within the bronchial wall. Both episodes resolved
promptly after treatment with corticosteroids. Eosinophilic lung disease may
be a steroid responsive complication of crack cocaine abuse.
3. Perper JA; Van Thiel DH.
Respiratory complications of cocaine abuse.
Recent Developments in Alcoholism, 1992, 10:363-77.
Pub type: Journal Article; Review; Review, Tutorial.
Abstract: Upper respiratory and pulmonary complications of
cocaine addiction have been increasingly reported in recent years, with most
of the patients being intravenous addicts, users of freebase, or smokers of
"crack." The toxicity of cocaine is complex and is exerted via
multiple central and peripheral pathways. Recurrent snorting of cocaine may
result in ischemia, necrosis, and infections of the nasal mucosa, sinuses,
and adjacent structures. Pulmonary complications of cocaine toxicity include
pulmonary edema, pulmonary hemorrhages, pulmonary barotrauma, foreign body
granulomas, cocaine related pulmonary infection, obliterative bronchiolitis,
asthma, and persistent gas-exchange abnormalities. Respiratory
manifestations are nonspecific and include shortness of breath, cough,
wheezing, hemoptysis, and chest pains. Severe respiratory difficulties have
been reported in neonates of abusing mothers. In the absence of a
cocaine-abuse history, it may be difficult to recognize the etiological role
of cocaine, especially in the absence of needle tracks pointing to previous
intravenous drug abuse and/or negative toxicology.
4. Ferre C; Sirvent JM; Vidaller A.
[Hemoptysis and pulmonary infiltrates following crack poisoning (letter)].
Medicina Clinica, 1992 Mar 7, 98(9):358.
Pub type: Letter.
5. Tashkin DP; Khalsa ME; Gorelick D; Chang P; Simmons
MS; Coulson AH; Gong H Jr.
Pulmonary status of habitual cocaine smokers.
American Review of Respiratory Disease, 1992 Jan, 145(1):92-100.
Abstract: We determined the prevalence of respiratory
symptoms and lung dysfunction in a large sample of habitual smokers of
freebase cocaine ("crack") alone and in combination with tobacco
and/or marijuana. In addition, we compared these findings with those in an
age- and race-matched sample of nonusers of crack who did or did not smoke
tobacco and/or marijuana. A detailed respiratory and drug use questionnaire
and a battery of lung function tests were administered to (1) a convenience
sample of 202 habitual smokers of cocaine (cases) who denied intravenous
drug abuse and (2) a reference sample of 99 nonusers of cocaine (control
subjects). The cocaine smokers (85% black) included the following: 68
never-smokers of marijuana, of whom 43 currently smoked tobacco and 25 did
not, and 134 ever-smokers of marijuana (42 current and 92 former), of whom
92 currently smoked tobacco and 42 did not. The control subjects (96% black)
included the following: 69 never-smokers of marijuana, of whom 26 currently
smoked tobacco and 43 did not, and 30 ever-smokers of marijuana (18 current
and 12 former), of whom 21 currently smoked tobacco and 9 did not. Cases
smoked an average of 6.5 g cocaine per week for a mean of 53 months. The
median time of the most recent use of crack prior to study was 19 days
(range less than 1 to 180 days). After controlling for the use of other
smoked substances, frequent crack use was associated with: (1) a high
prevalence of at least occasional occurrences of acute cardiorespiratory
symptoms within 1 to 12 h after smoking cocaine (cough productive of black
sputum [43.7%], hemoptysis [5.7%], chest pain [38.5%], usually worse with
deep breathing, and cardiac palpitations [52.6%]) and (2) a mild but
significant impairment in the diffusing capacity of the lung.(ABSTRACT
TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
6. O'Donnell AE; Mappin FG; Sebo TJ; Tazelaar H.
Interstitial pneumonitis associated with "crack" cocaine abuse.
Chest, 1991 Oct, 100(4):1155-7.
Abstract: A 33-year-old woman developed acute bilateral
pulmonary infiltrates after the intense use of rock cocaine (crack). She
subsequently had progressive deterioration of pulmonary function to the
point of being ventilator-dependent. Open lung biopsy showed a chronic
interstitial pneumonia with extensive accumulation of free silica within
histiocytes associated with mild pulmonary fibrosis. This pattern of
interstitial pneumonia has not been previously reported in crack users.
7. Susskind H; Weber DA; Volkow ND; Hitzemann R.
Increased lung permeability following long-term use of free-base cocaine
Chest, 1991 Oct, 100(4):903-9.
Abstract: The clearance of inhaled 99mTc DTPA aerosol from
the lungs is used as an index of lung epithelial permeability. Using the
radioaerosol method, we investigated the effects of long-term
"crack" (free-base cocaine) inhalation on lung permeability in 23
subjects. Eighteen control subjects (12 nonsmokers and 6 cigarette smokers)
with no history of drug use were also studied. Subjects inhaled
approximately 150 muCi (approximately 5.6 MBq) of 99mTc DTPA aerosol and
quantitative gamma camera images of the lungs were acquired at 1-min
increments for 25 minutes. Regions of interest (ROIs) were selected to
include the following: (1) both lungs; (2) each individual lung; and (3) the
upper, middle, and lower thirds of each lung. 99mTc DTPA lung clearance was
determined from the slopes of the respective time-activity plots for the
different RIOs. Radioaerosol clearance half-times (T1/2) for the seven
nonsmoking crack users (61.5 +/- 18.3 minutes) were longer than for the
seven cigarette-smoking crack users (27.9 +/- 16.9 minutes) and nine
cigarette-smoking crack plus marijuana users (33.5 +/- 21.6 minutes). T1/2
for the nonsmoking crack users was significantly shorter (p less than 0.001)
than for the nonsmoking control group (123.8 +/- 28.7 minutes). T1/2 for the
cigarette-smoking drug users was similar to that of the cigarette-smoking
control group (33.1 +/- 17.8 minutes), suggesting a similar mechanism of
damage from the smoke of crack and tobacco. From these groups, one nonsmoker
and 11 cigarette smokers displayed biexponential 99mTc DTPA clearances,
indicative of greater lung injury than found in the usual cases of
monoexponential clearance. The upper lungs of all crack users groups cleared
faster than the lower lungs. The faster and biexponential clearance
properties of inhaled 99mTc DTPA aerosol were the principal functional
abnormalities found in all the drug users. In contrast, 19 of 23 crack users
had normal spirometry and gas exchange. These results indicate that 99mTc
DTPA may provide a sensitive and useful assay to evaluate the physiologic
effects of cocaine inhalation in the lung.
8. McCarroll KA; Roszler MH.
Lung disorders due to drug abuse.
Journal of Thoracic Imaging, 1991 Jan, 6(1):30-5.
Pub type: Journal Article; Review; Review, Academic.
Abstract: Drug-related diseases of the lungs have been
noted with increasing frequency in urban patients. These entities are also
being seen in smaller urban and suburban settings, however. The spectrum of
pathology is also changing coincident with the marked increase in crack
cocaine use. The incidence of abnormal chest radiographs in cocaine users
admitted with pulmonary complaints has ranged from 12% to 55%. Findings have
included focal air space disease, atelectasis, pneumothorax,
pneumomediastinum, and pulmonary edema. Pulmonary complications related to
injections of illicit drugs have included pulmonary infection, pulmonary
edema, particulate embolism, and talcosis. The "pocket shot"
places the patient at risk for a unique set of complications. Radiologists
should be aware of this wide spectrum of pulmonary disease that may be
related to this increasingly frequent social problem.
9. Smart RG.
Crack cocaine use: a review of prevalence and adverse effects.
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 1991, 17(1):13-26. (UI:
Pub type: Journal Article; Review; Review, Tutorial.
Abstract: Crack is a potent form of cocaine which results
in rapid and striking stimulant effects when smoked. This paper reviews
epidemiological research on the extent of use as well as reports of adverse
effects. Crack is used by a small minority of adult and student populations
but by a large proportion of cocaine users and heavy drug-using groups. Use
does not appear to be increasing in general populations, but there are no
trend studies for high-risk groups. Crack users tend to be young, heavy
polydrug users, many of whom have serious drug abuse problems. The adverse
reactions to crack are similar to those of cocaine and include effects on
offspring, neurological and psychiatric problems, as well as pulmonary and
cardiac abnormalities. However, two adverse reactions unique to crack have
been reported. One relates to lung infiltrates and bronchospasm. The other
involves neurological symptoms among children living in crack smoke-filled
rooms. There is a need for improved treatment and preventive programs for
10. Forrester JM; Steele AW; Waldron JA; Parsons PE.
Crack lung: an acute pulmonary syndrome with a spectrum of clinical and
American Review of Respiratory Disease, 1990 Aug, 142(2):462-7.
Abstract: In this report, we review the hospital course of
four patients who presented with an acute pulmonary syndrome after inhaling
freebase cocaine and compare them with previously described case reports.
Two patients had prolonged inflammatory pulmonary injury associated with
fever, hypoxemia, hemoptysis, respiratory failure, and diffuse alveolar
infiltrates. Lung tissue specimens from both patients revealed diffuse
alveolar damage, alveolar hemorrhage, and interstitial and intraalveolar
inflammatory cell infiltration notable for the prominence of eosinophils.
Immunofluorescent staining performed on one of the biopsy specimens showed a
striking deposition of IgE in both lymphocytes and alveolar macrophages.
Both patients were treated with systemic corticosteroids and rapidly
improved. In contrast, two patients presented acutely with diffuse pulmonary
alveolar infiltrates associated with dyspnea and hypoxemia, but without
fever, and within 36 h of discontinuing cocaine their pulmonary infiltrates
and symptoms had spontaneously resolved. Our report further supports the
finding that an acute pulmonary syndrome can occur after inhalation of
freebase cocaine. Furthermore, the lung injury may respond to systemic
corticosteroid therapy when it is associated with a prominent inflammatory
11. Hannan DJ; Adler AG.
Crack abuse. Do you known enough about it?
Postgraduate Medicine, 1990 Jul, 88(1):141-3, 146-7.
Pub type: Journal Article; Review; Review, Tutorial.
Abstract: Crack use has increased dramatically because the
drug is cheap, highly addictive, and easy to use. As a result, an increased
frequency of cocaine-related medical problems has been noted. The effects of
crack abuse on fetal outcome and neurobehavioral development are becoming
more apparent. In addition, the role of crack use in furthering transmission
of sexually transmitted diseases has been documented, and the implications
for AIDS transmission have been speculated on. Crack use enhances social
disorganization, particularly in poor urban areas, where increased child
abuse, neglect, and prostitution are common. Ever present are the financial
incentives to increase the number of crack users. Cocaine was once
considered a drug for the elite, rich, and famous. Crack clearly has changed
12. Tashkin DP.
Pulmonary complications of smoked substance abuse.
Western Journal of Medicine, 1990 May, 152(5):525-30.
Pub type: Journal Article; Review; Review, Tutorial.
Abstract: After tobacco, marijuana is the most widely
smoked substance in our society. Studies conducted within the past 15 years
in animals, isolated tissues, and humans indicate that marijuana smoke can
injure the lungs. Habitual smoking of marijuana has been shown to be
associated with chronic respiratory tract symptoms, an increased frequency
of acute bronchitic episodes, extensive tracheobronchial epithelial disease,
and abnormalities in the structure and function of alveolar macrophages, key
cells in the lungs' immune defense system. In addition, the available
evidence strongly suggests that regularly smoking marijuana may predispose
to the development of cancer of the respiratory tract. "Crack"
smoking has become increasingly prevalent in our society, especially among
habitual smokers of marijuana. New evidence is emerging implicating smoked
cocaine as a cause of acute respiratory tract symptoms, lung dysfunction,
and, in some cases, serious, life-threatening acute lung injury. A strong
physician message to users of marijuana, cocaine, or both concerning the
harmful effects of these smoked substances on the lungs and other organs may
persuade some of them, especially those with drug-related respiratory
complications, to quit smoking.
13. Brody SL; Slovis CM; Wrenn KD.
Cocaine-related medical problems: consecutive series of 233 patients [see
American Journal of Medicine, 1990 Apr, 88(4):325-31.
Abstract: PURPOSE: Little information describing common
cocaine-related medical problems is available. This study examined the
nature, frequency, treatment, incidence of complications, and emergency
department deaths of patients seeking medical care for acute and chronic
cocaine-associated medical problems. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A consecutive
series of 233 hospital visits by 216 cocaine-using patients over a 6-month
period during 1986 and 1987 was studied. Medical records were
retrospectively reviewed to determine patient characteristics, nature of
complications, treatment, and outcome. RESULTS: Patients most commonly used
cocaine intravenously (49%), but freebase or crack use was also common
(23.3%). Concomitant abuse of other intoxicants, especially alcohol, was
frequently seen (48.5%). The vast majority of complaints were
cardiopulmonary (56.2%), neurologic (39.1%), and psychiatric (35.8%);
multiple symptoms were often present (57.5%). The most common complaint was
chest pain though rarely was it believed to represent ischemia. Altered
mental status was common (27.4%) and ranged from psychosis to coma.
Short-term pharmacologic intervention was necessary in only 24% of patients,
and only 9.9% of patients were admitted. Acute mortality was less than 1%.
CONCLUSION: Most medical complications of cocaine are short-lived and appear
to be related to cocaine's hyperadrenergic effects. Patients usually do not
require short-term therapy or hospital admission. Acute morbidity and
mortality rates from cocaine use in patients presenting to the hospital are
very low, suggesting that a major focus in the treatment of cocaine-related
emergencies should be referral for drug abuse detoxification and treatment.
14. Wallach SJ.
Medical complications of the use of cocaine.
Hawaii Medical Journal, 1989 Nov, 48(11):461-2.
Abstract: There are many serious medical problems that are
associated with the use of cocaine and "crack" cocaine.
15. Eurman DW; Potash HI; Eyler WR; Paganussi PJ; Beute
Chest pain and dyspnea related to "crack" cocaine smoking: value
of chest radiography.
Radiology, 1989 Aug, 172(2):459-62.
Abstract: The chest radiographs of 71 patients who had
chest pain or shortness of breath following the smoking of highly potent
"crack" cocaine were retrospectively evaluated. Nine patients had
abnormal findings on radiographs as follows: atelectasis or localized
parenchymal opacification in four, pneumomediastinum in two, pneumothorax in
one, hemopneumothorax in one, and pulmonary edema in one. Radiographic
detection of these abnormalities was important in the clinical management of
these patients. This spectrum of findings is presented with a discussion of
the pathophysiologic mechanisms responsible.
16. Cherukuri R; Minkoff H; Feldman J; Parekh A; Glass
A cohort study of alkaloidal cocaine ("crack") in pregnancy.
Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1988 Aug, 72(2):147-51.
Abstract: The recent dramatic increase in the use of
alkaloidal cocaine ("crack") has led to concern about possible
deleterious fetal effects associated with its use during pregnancy. Crack,
which is not destroyed by heating, can be smoked, and delivers a large
quantity of cocaine to the vascular bed of the lung, producing an effect
similar to that from intravenous injection. To describe the association of
crack use with pregnancy outcome, we conducted a retrospective matched
cohort study of 55 women who admitted to the use of crack during pregnancy
and 55 non-drug-using women who delivered during the same period. The groups
were matched for age, parity, socioeconomic status, alcohol use, and
presence or absence of prenatal care. A significantly larger number of women
using crack delivered at 37 weeks or earlier (50.9 versus 16.4%; P = .001).
Crack-exposed infants were 3.6 times more likely to have intrauterine growth
retardation (P less than .006) and 2.8 times more likely to have a head
circumference less than the tenth percentile for gestational age (P less
than .007). Premature rupture of the membranes was 1.8 times more common in
the crack group (P less than .03). Sixty percent of crack-using mothers
received no prenatal care. Abnormal neurobehavioral symptoms were present in
a minority of infants and were usually mild.
17. Snyder CA; Wood RW; Graefe JF; Bowers A; Magar K.
"Crack smoke" is a respirable aerosol of cocaine base [published
erratum appears in Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1988 Apr;29(4):835].
Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 1988 Jan, 29(1):93-5.
Abstract: The smoking of cocaine base [corrected]
("crack") has emerged as a significant substance abuse problem. A
detailed characterization of cocaine smoke is a prerequisite for studies of
its pharmacokinetics, abuse potential and toxicity. Model pipes were used to
generate cocaine smoke analogous to that inhaled by human "crack"
abusers. Using procedures to minimize pyrolysis, cocaine base smoke was
determined to be 93.5% cocaine particles with the remainder being cocaine
vapor. The average particle size generated from all model pipes was 2.3 mu
which is small enough to ensure deposition into the alveolar region of the
human lung. Although this particle size is eminently respirable [corrected]
by primates, a much smaller fraction will reach the alveolar region of
rodents. Special generating procedures would therefore be required to expose
rodents to meaningful doses of airborne cocaine that mimic the rapid
absorption achieved by "crack" smokers.
The following article appeared in the Santa Cruz
Sentinel, 12/6/92. It is an Associated Press article, so it probably
appeared in other papers as well.
'Crack Babies' catch up
By: Dana Kennend, The Associated Press
Comments by: Bela Lubkin
NEW YORK - When they spoted the playground, looming like a leafy oasis
amid the graffiti-scarred tenements of central Harlem, the 10 toddlers and
pre-schoolers erupted in excitement. As they entered Morningside Park, the
older kids raced to the swings and slides. The younger ones clapped their
hands and cheered them on.
Within seconds, the children were indistinguishable from the other
youngsters in the park, swooping down slides and climbing monkey
bars.Three-year-old Johnny scrambled up the slide so fast that kids from a
nearby school watching in awe. Two-year-old Tanika jumped onto the jungle
gym like a tiny mountain goat.
This wasn't supposed to happen. These children, on their daily outing
from Hale House, were born exposed to crack. In recent years, the term "crack
babies" has become a national buzzword, a riveting soundbite that
conjures images of mutant, monster children.
Punchy headlines such as "Crack Babies: Genetic Inferiors"
and "Crack in the Cradle" have helped shape the
But the children themselves may have the last word. Doctors, social
workers and teachers involved with crack-exposed kids indicate that many are
rising above the dire predictions made for them.
"When people find out what I do, they say 'Ok, those poor crack
babies,'" said Hale House nurse Anne Marie Nedd as she chased
active, giggling 18-month-old Daren around the park. "I get so mad. I
tell them, "There's nothing really wrong with these kids!'"
Since crack swept the country in 1985, children born to crack addicts
were thought to be physically and mentally damaged, doomed to a marginal
life and an ongoing burden for taxpayers. The first wave of crack-exposed
children entered first and second grades in New York City this fall, a year
after one state report estimated the cost of special care for them could
total $2 billion over the next 15 years. Harlem Hospital researchers
estimated that the cost of caring for crack babies costs the country $500
million a year.
Such statistics have fed the kind of fear that led Ross Perot to invoke
the dread specter of "crack babies" during the first
presidential debate. "Again and again and again, the mother
disappears in three days and the child becomes a ward of the state because
he's permanently and genetically damaged," Perot said.
Permanently and genetically damaged. That's the kind of description that
angers Hale House program director Jackie Edmond as she feeds beaming,
6-month-old Quashia some apple sauce. Hale House cares for children 3 and
under born addicted to drugs. Like Quashia, almost all the kids there now
were born addicted to crack.
"Tell me, what does a crack baby look like?" Edmond
says angrily as she recounts the stories she's read about crack babies and
the comments she hears from strangers. "Nobody who talks about them
ever comes in to see them. They'll come in here and look at our kids any the
look normal. So they says, 'Where are the drug babies?' I tell them,
'They're right here.'"
Across town on Wards Island, watching a group of animated 3- and
4-year-olds reading aloud from workbooks in a sunny room at Odyssey House,
Cheryl Nazario had the same reaction. "These kids were labeled a
lost cause," said Nazario, who directs a residential program
helping former crack addicts and their children. "It was like
everyone expected them to walk into schools like little androids. But they
catch up. They really do catch up."
While crack-exposed babies may develop more slowly than others, many
experts say they often appear to grow out of early problems if they receive
proper care as infants and toddlers. Many believe their prognosis is as good
as children born drug-free if they get early intervention.
Such children have to overcome a lot. The gripping image of the jittery,
irritable baby who doesn't want to be touched and cries all the time is a
reality, experts say. But kids born to mothers addicted to other drugs share
the same symptoms, the result of a disorganized nervous system.
Programs all over the country, including Hale House and Odyssey House in
New York and the Charles R. Drew Head Start in South-Central Los Angeles,
have developed strategies to lessen the symptoms, help kids adapt to their
surroundings and teach parents how to better care for them.
Many experts who have researched or worked with kids exposed to cocaine
decry what some call the myth of "crack babies."
"It's nonsense," said Claire Coles, a clinical
psychologist at Emory University in Atlanta who has studied crack kids. "There's
no evidence of genetic damage, nothing like what was originally supposed.
It's astonishing that so much fuss has been raised about cocaine when kids
born with fetal alcohol syndrome are so much worse off."
The problems suffered by children exposed to cocaine stem from many
factors, Coles said. Many were born prematurely to mothers who had little or
no prenatal care and a returned to a neglectful environment. But cocaine
itself has not been proven to be any more damaging than any other drug used
by pregnant woment, Coles said.
Those familar with crack-exposed children also echoed Coles' assertion
that children with fetal alcohol syndrome are much more likely to suffer
from mental retardation.
Researchers at the National Association for Perinatal Addiction Research
and Education in Chicago have tracked a group of 300 children born exposed
to crack for almost seven years, while helping the kids and their mothers.
The association's president, Ira Chasnoff, said kids born exposed to
crack, or other drugs, often suffer from a decreased attention span, more
impulsive behavior and have difficulty concentrating. But environment may
play a more key role than drug exposure in the womb, he said.
In NAPARE's study, researchers found that the IQ scores of children born
exposed to crack were the same as children who were not crack-exposed but
who lived in a similar environment.
Chasnoff painted a dark picture behind society's morbid embrace of "crack
"The image of the crack baby really moved out there,"
he said. "Politicians really picked it up. It worked into the trend
of writing about the underclass. It's sexy, it's interesting, it sells
newspapers and it perpetuates the us-versus-them idea." In fact,
said Chasnoff, "Poverty is the worst thing that can happen to a
(Bela) My comments: I find it interesting and encouraging that now that
the Reagan/Bush/Quayle years are officially doomed, the mainstream media
feel they can start to debunk the myths generated by PFDA and others.
Unfortunately, the article failed to debunk the other half of this myth -
it never said anything direct about the number of "crack
babies". Without that information an uninformed but intelligent
person must still be concerned about the costs of giving this "head
start" to so many thousands, millions. I forget what PFDA says of
addicted kids. In fact, as we know, the numbers are low and now we see that
the consequences are low.
Return to top
The following article appeared in the Calgary Herald in Canada on
Saturday, June 11, 1994.
Placenta barrier to cocaine, study finds
By: Mark Lowey
TORONTO - Developmental problems in children exposed to cocaine prior to
birth may be due more to neglect at home than the drug's longterm effects, a
study suggests. "Cocaine babies," a term used by the
popular media to label children with problems, is a misnomer, said Dr.
Carmine Simone, researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He
co-authored the study to be published in the American Journal of Obstetrics
and Gynecology, with Dr. Gideon Koren, head of clinical pharmocology at the
Prenatal exposure to cocaine may be a merker of other problems at home,
such as child abuse, neglect and substance abuse by parents, Simone said.
In fact, researchers found that the placenta in the womb may actually
help protect the fetus from cocaine abuse by the mother.Using placenta
recovered from full term births, researchers devised apparatus that
simulates conditions in the womb when the mother takes cocaine. "We
can mimick the way women take drugs," Simone said. "It's
a model for what's happening."
The placenta is usually discarded after birth, he noted, adding the study
was conducted according to strict ethical guidelines and no fetuses were
Results showed the placenta appears to act as a barrier to cocaine. It is
able to absord about one-third of the administered dose, with about
one-third getting through that would affect the fetus. The rest is
eliminated. Simone said this situation may be due to the way cocaine is
taken, in staggered "hits" as the high wears off. The placenta
appears to metabolize and eliminate the drug between the hits. Children of
cocaine abusers show no proven lasting physiological or developmental
effects due to their experiences in the womb, said study co-author Koren. A
study involving three Toronto hospitals found about six per cent of new
borns, or one in 16, showed exposure to cocaine in the final three months
before birth. But if the placenta buffers exposure, this would help explain
why only 10 of 120 of the babies needed resuscitation or other intensive
care. Other research shows cocaine-exposed newborns are smaller than average
and much less healthy.
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