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You’ve heard the adage that you’re more likely to die from an oblivious bovine than from a shark attack, or that perishing via vending machine can be a more sinister notion than your being struck by lightning… but did you know that if you are a person who abuses cocaine and heroin, you’re actually fourteen times more likely to die in the next week than your drug-free peers? A notion which up until now has gone relatively unconfirmed, a recent study published in the pages of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment analyzing the excess mortality rate and risk factors of drug abuse confirmed that for abusers of both cocaine and heroin the death rate is 14.3 times higher, while for cocaine the rate is 5.1.

The first question that needs to be answered is why this information hasn’t been readily available up until now. As we’ve mentioned in the past, it’s been especially difficult for researchers to conclusively estimate the long-term effects that cocaine in particular can have on the human body. With the help of this most recent study on the combined effects of heroin and cocaine abuse, conducted by researchers at the Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid, the drug and alcohol research community is one step closer to understanding the deaths attributable to the latter.

According to an article posted on Medical News Today, for the purposes of the study two groups of cocaine abusers were taken: those who only abused cocaine (11,905 participants), and those who abused cocaine as well as heroin (8,825 participants). All of said participants were aged 15-49 at the time of recruitment, and had between 1997 and 2008 been admitted for treatment for psychoactive drug abuse or dependence at health care centers in Barcelona or Madrid.

Following its conclusion, Gregorio Barrio, one of the authors of this new study, notes:

This excess mortality may be due to the consumption of cocaine or heroin, but there are also other factors that may be different among the general population and the participants, such as mental disorders, personality traits, social conditions, etc.

The article goes on to add that several factors include absence of regular employment, drug use by injection, and consuming cocaine on a daily basis.

The hope of the authors is that this study will show the need for an increase in the number of interventions performed on abusers “in order to reduce the consumption of these substances and the damage caused by them.”

What do you think?