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July 5, 1985

The Danger of Cocaine

Author Affiliations

Director National Institute on Drug Abuse Rockville, Md

JAMA. 1985;254(1):98. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360010104038

Cocaine's great danger has not as yet been adequately recognized, either by the general public or by most physicians. Historically, the price of cocaine has served as a barrier to widespread use. Recently, however, there has been a substantial increase in acreage devoted to the growth of the coca bush, from which cocaine is derived. The consequent possibility of decreased prices and substantial increases in its use, as has already occurred in a number of South American countries, is therefore very real. Thus, it is essential that the widespread impression that the drug is comparatively benign be rapidly corrected.

The article by Bozarth and Wise1 in this issue shows that in rats given free access to heroin or cocaine, cocaine is three times as lethal to them as heroin. Their study showed that after one month, a remarkable 90% of animals with free access to cocaine were dead, compared