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Nicotine Tob Res. 2011 Sep;13(9):763-71. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntr069. Epub 2011 Apr 21.

Nicotine, alcohol, and drug findings in young adults in a population-based postmortem database.

Author information

  • 1Department of Forensic Medicine, Hjelt Institute, PO Box 40, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. terhi.launiainen@helsinki.fi

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

To obtain reliable information on nicotine and drug use through a population-based study, the prevalence of nicotine use in deceased young adults was studied in the Finnish postmortem toxicology database for a 3-year period. The nicotine user and non-nicotine user groups were compared by alcohol, drug, and drug-of-abuse findings and by the manner of death.

METHODS:

Nicotine users were identified based on detection of nicotine, cotinine, and/or trans-3'-hydroxycotinine in urine from a population-based sample of deceased young adults aged 15-34 years at the time of death (n = 1,623, ∼60% of all fatalities). Background information from case referrals was used to distinguish the abuse of medicines from their therapeutic use. The manner of death was taken from death certificates.

RESULTS:

Nicotine use was more common in young adults (75%) than among all cases in the database (55%). There were twice as many ethanol-positive cases in nicotine users (60%) than in non-nicotine users (30%). Nicotine use was common (70%-79%) among individuals on antipsychotics, antidepressants, anxiolytics, and/or hypnotics and sedatives. The proportion of nicotine users was also high among the drugs-of-abuse positive cases (85%). There were fewer deaths that were classified as natural in the nicotine users group.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among deceased young adults, nicotine use was two to three times as common as has been estimated for the corresponding living population (20%-30%). Nicotine use was also strongly associated with substance abuse and mental illnesses requiring pharmacotherapy. This group of young adults usually cannot be reached by traditional health surveys.

PMID:
21511890
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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