A new study analyses the risk factors and excess mortality among heroin and cocaine consumers admitted to treatment in Spain. The results reveal that the fatality rate among consumers of both drugs is 14.3 times higher than for the general population, while among those only using cocaine, it is 5.1 times higher.
In Spain the majority of deaths related to cocaine are not correctly certified and therefore up until now very few studies have been carried out that analyse the consequences of consuming these drugs in terms of mortality.
"Death certificates rarely include any reference to these substances in the information contained therein," SINC was informed by Gregorio Barrio, a researcher at the Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid and one of the authors of this new study.
This, says Barrio, is because very often the immediate cause of death in these cases is an unspecified health problem, such as a myocardial infarction or suicide, which may be caused by factors unrelated to cocaine or a number of reasons.
"Also, when signs of cocaine consumption before death are revealed during possible forensic and toxicological investigations, the original certified cause of death generally goes uncorrected, thus being included in mortality statistics devoid of the surname 'cocaine'," adds the researcher.
Faced with the difficulty of directly quantifying the deaths related to cocaine based on general mortality statistics, the researchers compared mortality rates among a group of heroin and cocaine users with that of people among the general population of the same age and sex.
For this study, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, two groups of cocaine users were taken, one of 8,825 people that also consumed heroin and another of 11,905 people who did not use this substance.
All the participants were admitted to treatment for psychoactive drug abuse or dependence in Madrid or Barcelona
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FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology