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Cocaine Toxicity: - eMedicine Emergency Medicine

Cocaine Toxicity: - eMedicine Emergency Medicine

  1. Wanderer
    Toxicity, Cocaine: - eMedicine Emergency Medicine

    Lynn Barkley Burnett, MD, EdD, LLB, et al.

    The ancient Incas of Peru believed cocaine to be a gift from the gods. However, it is a modern-day curse to the emergency physician.[1 ]Aside from alcohol and tobacco, cocaine is the most common cause of drug-related ED visits in the United States, accounting for 548,608 ED visits in 2006 (CI, 374,579 to 722,636), nearly twice the number according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) as marijuana or hashish, the second leading cause at 290,000 visits. Heroin-related visits are estimated at 190,000.

    Patients who present to the ED with cocaine toxicity often also have other drugs present; in fact, the combined use of alcohol and cocaine may be the major cause of drug-related deaths.

    Across the spectrum of acute and chronic effects, nearly every organ system can be effected. Trauma is often associated with cocaine use. Even the absence of cocaine may precipitate an ED visit due to withdrawal symptoms.