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Cocaine killed ‘Able’

House Calls

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 6/18/2014, 10:33 p.m.
I am sure that pharmacist J.C. Pemberton of Atlanta did not envision the dangers and addictive properties of cocaine when ...
Dr. Gerald Deas

I am sure that pharmacist J.C. Pemberton of Atlanta did not envision the dangers and addictive properties of cocaine when he first introduced it to the American public in a drink made from coca leaves. This beverage was ultimately called Coca-Cola. Today, of course, this thirst-quencher is no longer laced with cocaine, but it has the distinctive taste of the coca plant.

Early American physicians and pharmacists used cocaine to treat many illnesses, including menstrual cramps, gastrointestinal problems, nosebleeds and so forth. As a result, cocaine became a drug that was overused by healers and eventually by those being healed.

Like aspirin, cocaine became one of the wonder drugs of the world. Because the drug could make you feel good, it soon found its way onto the street to be sold illegally. Because of its high cost, which was due to the scarcity of the drug, cocaine first appeared to the rich and famous. However, when the drug supply increased—along with demand for it—new marketing strategies developed.

Today, the use of cocaine has become a major medical problem throughout the world, and there does not appear to be any antidote on the horizon. The use of this drug by women has not only threatened their own health, but also the health and survival of their unborn children. Hospital wards are filled with cocaine-addicted babies. The cost of caring for just one of these babies after birth exceeds $240,000. Imagine if we could spend that much to educate a healthy baby!

Take the case of Mrs. C, who came to my office with her great-grandchild. She was taking the place of the absentee mother, because her granddaughter was on crack. She confided that her granddaughter had refused to attend any substance programs and had disappeared.

Mrs. C was a widow and really had nowhere to turn. The only income that she had came from Social Security, which was meager to say the least. She did not want to give the child up to foster care because she had been a foster care child herself and knew the shortcomings of the system.

In today’s cocaine-ridden world, I feel that the powers that be must address this problem and create a department for children of cocaine addicts. This agency should be concerned with helping families to cope financially and socially with children who were left in their care.

It was recorded in the Bible that Cain killed his brother Abel. To make a comparison to today’s world, it appears that the chemical cocaine is killing “Able”: able to love, able to work, able to cope, able to reason. People, get yourselves together.

More information on the dangers of cocaine can be found at www.drugabuse.gov.