What are the possible complications of cocaine toxicity?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020
  • Author: Lynn Barkley Burnett, MD, EdD, JD; Chief Editor: Sage W Wiener, MD  more...
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The principal effect of cocaine, like ethanol, on mortality may be its association with homicide, suicide, and motor vehicle collisions. [27] In a study of 14,843 persons who were fatally injured in New York City over 3 years, fatal injury after cocaine use exceeded all deaths associated with other causes in persons aged 15-24 years. Although approximately one third of deaths associated with cocaine use were the result of its direct pharmacologic effects, two thirds were the result of traumatic injuries.

Cocaine use, determined by detection of its metabolite benzoylecgonine in urine or blood, was found in 26.7% of the above-mentioned patients, with free cocaine, indicating recent use, detected in 18.3%. Ethanol was detected in 28.1% of those who died. For comparison, household surveys of the general population of New York City showed that the estimated frequency of cocaine use in the preceding 30 days was less than 1.3% overall; demographic groups with the highest rates of use were Hispanics and black men, whose rates were 3-4.1%.

In this study, cocaine use was detected in 69.7% of all cases of accidental poisonings, 29.2% of homicides, 15.3% of suicides, and 9.3% of accidents.

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