Cocaine-Related Deaths Rise with Warmer Temperatures
The study, published in the journal Addiction, explains that cocaine increases the core body temperature, impairs the cardiovascular system’s ability to cool down the body, and decreases heat-related discomfort that helps people avoid becoming overheated, or hyperthermic. People experiencing hyperthermia can overdose on lower amounts of cocaine because their bodies are under more stress.
It was previously thought that cocaine-related deaths were associated with much higher temperatures: 87.9 degrees Fahrenheit. But the new study found that deaths began to increase at just 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which suggests that cocaine users are at a higher risk of overdose for longer periods of each year.
They found no difference in the number of overdoses in New York City among weeks where the average temperature was between -14 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but overdoses began to increase significantly during the weeks where the average temperature was above 75 degrees. With more than 8.2 million people living in New York City, at least two people per week will die of a drug overdose for each two-degree rise in temperature above 75 degrees.
The researchers suggest that health-related warnings should be delivered to high-risk groups in warm weather, and that air-conditioning should be available in areas where cocaine-related deaths or arrests are more common.
Lead author Dr. Amy Bohnert said that cocaine users are at a high risk for many negative health consequences and need public health attention, especially during times of warm weather.
Source: Science Daily, Cocaine-Related Deaths Rise in Warmer Weather, Study Finds, March 3, 2010