Drug Abuse:

The Crack Cocaine Epidemic--Health Consequences and Treatment

HRD-91-55FS: Published: Jan 30, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) health consequences of the crack cocaine epidemic; and (2) types of treatments available for crack addicts.

GAO found that: (1) drug users were about six times more likely than non-drug users to suffer a stroke that could result in death or lifetime disability; (2) cocaine abusers had high rates of such mental disorders as depression, schizophrenia, or antisocial personality disorder; (3) health professionals associated crack use with the spread of acquired immumodeficiency syndrome and other sexually transmitted diseases; (4) many drug-addicted pregnant women did not receive enough or any prenatal care, resulting in many infants experiencing medical complications after delivery and long-term developmental delays; (5) drug treatment before the third trimester reduced the risk of low birth weight and premature births; (6) no state-of-the-art treatment method for crack abusers existed; (7) researchers were pursuing pharmacological and nonpharmacological crack addiction treatments; (8) pharamacological research attempted to identify drugs that could serve as a replacement, block the effect, temper or eliminate drug withdrawal problems, block or reverse toxic effects, and prevent the development of addiction; and (9) traditional nonpharmacologic treatments for cocaine addiction included residential treatment programs, accupuncture, and relapse prevention strategies, but the results of such treatment experiments were not yet available.