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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2004 Dec;23(4):391-8.

Injecting and non-injecting cocaine use in Sydney, Australia: physical and psychological morbidity.

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  • 1National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre University of New South Wales, Australia.


This study aimed to examine the physical and psychological harms of cocaine use and investigate the role of injecting versus non-injecting routes of administration in the severity of such harms. Two hundred and twelve cocaine users from inner-city and south-western Sydney were administered a structured interview containing sections on demographics, drug treatment history, drug use history, cocaine use patterns, cocaine dependence and physical and psychological problems associated with cocaine use. Serious physical and psychological symptoms were prevalent among both injecting and non-injecting cocaine users. The prevalence and extent of symptoms was greater among injecting cocaine users, however route of administration did not prove to be a significant independent predictor of harm when other factors, such as frequency of use and level of dependence, were taken into account. While the level of physical and psychological harm was greater among cocaine injectors, it would appear that factors engendered by injecting, such as more frequent use and higher levels of dependence, result in higher levels of harm, rather than the route of administration per se. Physical and psychological problems were also reported among infrequent users, suggesting that cocaine can cause harm irrespective of frequency or method of use. Harm reduction initiatives should be targeted towards all cocaine users, not just those who seek treatment for dependence or present with acute medical complications.

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