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Crack/cocaine abusers in the general hospital: assessment and initiation of care
Am J Psychiatry 1992;149:810-815.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Cocaine, either smoked (as "crack") or taken intranasally, is now a common cause of psychiatric illness. This study was designed to assess the impact of cocaine abuse on a general psychiatric service and an obstetrics service in an urban general hospital and to evaluate a program for engaging affected patients in addiction treatment. METHOD: The charts of 300 general psychiatric patients (not admitted for addiction treatment) and 60 cocaine-abusing prenatal or postpartum patients were reviewed. A treatment referral program based on professionally directed peer leadership was established for patients with cocaine abuse. Results of evaluation and referral of 100 other cocaine-abusing psychiatric patients and the 60 prenatal or postpartum patients were then determined. RESULTS: Fully 64% (N = 191) of the 300 psychiatric patients were diagnosed as substance abusers; 38% (N = 113) of them abused cocaine. Almost one-third of these cocaine abusers had no axis I diagnosis other than substance abuse/dependence, and the majority were homeless. Urine samples were positive for cocaine in a majority of the obstetric patients studied. A majority of the psychiatric patients who were referred through the peer-led program enrolled in outpatient cocaine treatment--three times as many as in the chart review group. Most of the obstetric patients suitable for referral enrolled for treatment as well. CONCLUSIONS: Cocaine abuse may be responsible for a large portion of psychiatric admissions in urban public general hospitals. Cocaine abusers in psychiatric and obstetrics services are apparently responsive to a peer-oriented mode of referral into treatment.

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