Forensic pathologists in Spain have released a report in the European Heart Journal which shows that cocaine related deaths are on the rise, especially among youth. Doctors carefully investigated the circumstances surrounding deaths between 2003 and 2006. The study published on January 13, 2010, reports that out of 668 sudden deaths, 21 were related to cocaine use. The study highlights the ever increasing need to dispel myths that recreational cocaine abuse is safe and won’t lead to death.
Of the deaths related to cocaine use, the victims were male aged 21 through 45. Dr. Joaquin Lucena, MD PhD, who is Head of the Forensic Pathology Service at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Seville, Spain stated, “Our findings show that cocaine use causes adverse changes to the heart and arteries that then lead to sudden death”. With so much at stake, drug rehabilitation has never been so needed by people all over the world. He furthermore reports that “Any amount of the drug can be considered to have the potential for toxicity due to the fact that some patients have poor outcomes with relatively low blood concentrations, whereas others tolerate large quantities without consequences”. In essence, there is a certain gambling with the fragility of life associated with drug addiction in general.
Users will also use alcohol to enhance the “high” obtained from cocaine while minimizing the subsequent “lows”. Further complicating matters is the fact that users also smoke cigarettes, and “the combination of cocaine with either or both of these habits can be considered as a lethal cocktail that promotes the development of premature heart disease”, Dr. Lucena said.
Cocaine has become a growing health issue in Europe as well as among other countries including the United States. The authors wrote, “The estimated number of cocaine consumers is about 12 million Europeans with an overall prevalence of 3.7% of the total adult population age 15-64 years old. In the year 2007, an estimated 3.5 million European young adults have used cocaine, with the highest prevalence levels, of over 3%, being found in Spain, Italy and the UK.”