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Crack and the Crack Baby Myth 

Crack is a generally unpopular form of cocaine; about 80% of powder cocaine users do not use crack. Addiction is no more common with crack than with alcohol or powder cocaine. 

 "Powder cocaine and crack cocaine are two forms of the same drug, containing the same active ingredient." 

- U.S. Sentencing Commission, Special Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy, 1995 

 Because the effects of crack only last about 20 minutes, there is a tendency, as with alcohol, for some users to binge. 

Even so, crack use is rare among the young. The 1 in 500 who are "current" users in the study below, refers to use in the past 30 days, not even use "in the past week." 

 In 2001, an estimated 1.7 million (0.7 percent) of Americans aged 12 or older were current cocaine users and 406,000 (0.2 percent) were current crack users. 

- SAMHSA's 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 

"Crack Baby" Myth 

Few subjects better typify media hysteria, and the manner in which science has been replaced by myths strongly held by the public than the myth of the "crack baby." 

On February 25, 2004, thirty leading medical doctors, scientists and psychological researchers released a public letter calling on the media to stop the use of such terms as "crack baby" and "crack addicted baby" and similarly stigmatizing terms, such as "ice babies" and "meth babies." This broad group agrees that these terms lack scientific validity and should not be used. 

Their letter says in part: 

"Throughout almost 20 years of research, none of us has identified a recognizable condition, syndrome or disorder that should be termed "crack baby." Some of our published research finds subtle effects of prenatal cocaine exposure in selected developmental domains, while other of our research publications do not. This is in contrast to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which has a narrow and specific set of criteria for diagnosis. 

"By definition, babies cannot be 'addicted' to crack or anything else. In utero physiologic dependence on opiates (not addiction), known as Neonatal Narcotic Abstinence Syndrome, is readily diagnosed, but no such symptoms have been found to occur following prenatal cocaine exposure. 

"Despite the lack of a medical or scientific basis for the use of these pejorative and stigmatizing labels, they have been repeatedly used in the popular media, in a wide variety of contexts and across the country. 

"We are deeply disappointed that American and international media continues to use a term that not only lacks any scientific basis but endangers and disenfranchises the children to whom it is applied."

It is interesting that when research was presented over a decade ago by Claire D. Coles, PhD [Director, Fetal Alcohol and Drug Exposure Center, Marcus Institute Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine] that dispelled the myth, she was attacked and criticized. 

See: "Crack Baby" letter

Also see: www.drugwarfacts.org/crack.htm


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