Cocaine/crack cocaine consumption, treatment demand, seizures, related offences, prices, average purity levels and deaths in the UK (1990-2004)
A recent trend of escalating use of cocaine/crack cocaine was observed in the UK. The number of mentions on death certificates; last year use of cocaine; treatment demand, number of drug offenders, seizures, prices and average purity levels were the indicators used for this descriptive and correlational study. Figures ( 1990-2004) were taken from official UK sources. A total of 1022 cocaine/crack cocaine death mentions ( i.e. deaths from any cause where the presence of cocaine/ crack cocaine was also detected) were identified, with cocaine/ crack cocaine being the sole drug mentioned in 36% of cases. The number of cocaine/ crack cocaine death mentions showed a year-on-year increase and correlated positively with the following cocaine ( powder) figures: last year use ( p < 0.001); number of offenders ( p < 0.001) and number of seizures ( p < 0.001), but correlated negatively with price ( p < 0.001). Furthermore, the number of cocaine/ crack cocaine death mentions correlated positively with the number of crack offenders ( p < 0.001) and seizures ( p < 0.001), but correlated negatively with both crack purity ( p < 0.001) and price ( p < 0.05). With conditions of increasing drug availability having been met in the UK, decrease in cocaine prices were associated with higher consumption levels and this, in turn, contributed to the increase in number of cocaine-related fatalities. There are limitations with the information collected, since no distinction is usually made on medical death certificates between cocaine and crack cocaine. The present study being an ecological one, it proved difficult to address the role of confounding variables that may well explain some of the associations observed.
Published inJournal of Psychopharmacology
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