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Eur Addict Res. 2013;19(2):74-81. doi: 10.1159/000341719. Epub 2012 Oct 5.

Cocaine-related health emergencies in Europe: a review of sources of information, trends and implications for service development.

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European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Lisbon, Portugal.



Cocaine-related health consequences are difficult to observe. Data on drug users in health-emergency settings may be a useful source of information on consequences that are not visible via other information sources.


Thirty European countries submit an annual national report on the drug situation to the EMCDDA. All reports for the period 2007-2010 were analyzed, with particular attention given to auditing cocaine-related mentions. Analysis was also performed in order to identify sources and case definitions, assess coverage, audit cases and, where possible, to identify long-term trends.


Considerable heterogeneity existed between countries in their approach to recording drug-related emergencies, with only Spain and the Netherlands having established formal indicators. The highest annual numbers of cocaine-related episodes were reported by the UK (3,502), Spain (2,845) and the Netherlands (1,211). A considerable (2- to 3-fold) increase in the numbers of cocaine-related episodes has been reported since the end of the 1990s in these countries; these increases peaked in Spain and England around 2007/08.


The analysis reported here suggests the need to develop more standardized approaches to monitoring drug-related emergencies. It points to the potential value of developing effective referral links between the emergency and specialized drug services working with cocaine users.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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