Cocaine : intoxication increased six-fold since 2010

Health 27 January, 2018

Nomadsoul1 / Epictura

Published the 27.01.2018 at 13h54


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It spreads like wildfire. According to the drug Agency (MSNA), which has to make public data from its nationwide network addictovigilance, cases of poisoning related to the use of cocaine or derivative products have shot up in recent years. The number of reports rose from 68 cases in 2010 to 416 in 2017, representing a six-fold increase !

The illnesses are not only more frequent, but also more serious. The number of serious cases has been multiplied by eight between 2010 and 2016, with 44 deaths in 2015. In most of these intoxications, it is cocaine powder that is in question, followed by the crack and the free base (see box).

Source : MSNA (2018).

According to the MSNA, which was analyzed hospitalization data between 2008 and 2014, the most frequent complications are psychiatric (35 %), cardiovascular (30 %) and neurological (27 %). Although more rare, infectious complications (12 %), respiratory (8 %) and affecting the ENT (3 %) are also reported.

Of cocaine more pure

This rise in poisoning the cocaine is mainly explained by the extension of the domain of the struggle. Not only does the drug sells for more, but the fiercer competition leads to the dealers to adopt strategies of differentiation. The “quality” of the powder has thus become a marketing ploy in itself. We went from an average purity of approximately 30 % in 2009 to a situation where the majority of seizures of more than 70 % purity.

Source : French Office for drugs and drug addiction (2016).

In the majority of cases, cocaine is cut to the lévamisole, an anthelmintic used especially in veterinary medicine, which emphasizes the psychostimulant effects of cocaine. Unfortunately, it is also responsible for adverse effects (gastric, diarrhoea, stomach ache) and allergic (skin rash), and may contribute to the overdose (serotonin syndrome). The other product of cutting, the most common is caffeine, with adverse effects lower.

A widespread increase in

Remains to know why these data are emerging now, so that the drug agency had already communicated on the subject last August and that the final report does not appear to available yet. On the 25th of January last, the minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb confirmed the setting in place of fines, payments for the use of drugs, without relief of other penal sanctions. Mere coincidence or communication, well-orchestrated ?

In any event, the outbreak of the consumption of cocaine and its derivatives do not let concern for the authorities. The key issues of public health importance, but also of the disturbance of public order, in particular, regarding the crack. This increase of consumption is not specific to France : after a period of decline, the global trend appears to be increasing in Europe and the United States, but also in West Africa.

Cocaine and its derivatives

Cocaine exists in multiple forms, that correspond to the uses and networks of sale well-differentiated. The cocaine powder (hydrochloride) is rather consumed in urban areas with high purchasing power, and still has a positive image of the ” drug connected “. Its consumption is on the rise.

Crack cocaine and free base are in the form of “pebbles” or “cakes” that can be inhaled or smoked. They are the result of the conversion of cocaine powder into cocaine base, according to separate procedures. The effect is immediate and powerful, with a shorter duration than cocaine powder.

The crack, is obtained by heating and addition of ammonia, is often sold as such. Mostly eaten in the paris region and in the French Antilles, it is often associated with people very poor. Traffic tends to spread, especially in Paris. The free base is obtained by adding bicarbonate of soda, often by consumers themselves. It is more associated with environments ” festive “, electro and techno.

Very close to the plane of the composition (of cocaine base, almost pure), crack cocaine and free base are images very different, negative for the former and positive for the second, while their risk is similar.