Epidemic free-base cocaine abuse.
Case study from the Bahamas

Jekel JF, Allen DF, Podlewski H,
Clarke N, Dean-Patterson S, Cartwright P.
Lancet. 1986 Mar 1;1(8479):459-62


Beginning in 1983, a sharp increase was noted in the number of new admissions for cocaine abuse to the only psychiatric hospital and to the primary outpatient psychiatric clinic in the Bahamas. For the two facilities combined, new admissions for cocaine abuse increased from none in 1982 to 69 in 1983 and to 523 in 1984. Although there was some evidence for a rise in cocaine use during this time, as the drug became cheaper and more available, a primary cause of this medical epidemic seemed to be a switch by pushers from selling cocaine hydrochloride, which has a low addictive potential, to almost exclusive selling of cocaine free base, which has a very high addictive potential and causes medical and psychological problems. Although the use of free cocaine base is rising around the world, this is the first report of a nationwide medical epidemic due almost exclusively to this form of the drug, although similar problems are reported with smoking coca paste in South America.

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