Causes of death among crack cocaine users
Causa mortis em usuários de crack.
Marcelo Ribeiro, John Dunn, Ricardo Sesso, Andréa Costa Dias, Ronaldo Laranjeira
Unidade de Pesquisa em Álcool e Drogas (UNIAD/UNIFESP)
Objectives: To monitor crack-cocaine users over a 5-year period and examine mortality patterns and causes of death. Methods: A group of 131 consecutive crack-dependent patients admitted to a detoxification unit in Sao Paulo between 1992 and 1994 were interviewed during two follow-up periods: 1995-1996 and 1998-1999. Results: Due to sample losses, the final data set consisted of 124 patients. By the study endpoint (1999), 23 patients (17.6%) had died. Homicide was the most common cause of death, followed by AIDS, especially among those with a history of intravenous drug use. Less than 10% died from overdose. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the mortality risk among crack cocaine users is greater than that seen in the general population, homicide and AIDS being the most common causes of death among such individuals. Therefore, in addition to treatment, public health interventions aimed at this population should include specific measures designed to minimize or prevent such outcomes.