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Social cocaine use 'dangerous' according to researchers
Apr30

Social cocaine use 'dangerous' according to researchers

LAST UPDATED // Wednesday, 30 April 2014 13:57 Written by // Rachel Cook

Sydney University researchers have found that people who use cocaine ‘socially’ are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The study published in medical journal PLOS ONE shows that social cocaine users had increased aortic stiffness, increased systolic blood pressure, and greater left ventricular mass, compared with the non-users all of which are risk-factors for premature cardiovascular events. 

Senior author of the report, Professor Gemma Figtree from Sydney Medical School said:
“This is the first study in Australia to examine the cardiovascular effects of cocaine use in non-addict individuals who consider themselves ‘social’ users.”

Figtree also said in a statement that while the acute cardiovascular side effects of cocaine such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) and myocardial ischaemia are well known “the chronic effect of regular cocaine use in otherwise healthy adults who consider themselves ‘social’ users is more difficult to establish,” she said.

Figtree said the results of the study into the longer term consequences in individuals who take cocaine socially “are alarming”.

“Our research found that social cocaine users had higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries, and heavier hearts, which are all associated with poor cardiovascular health in the long term.

“We have seen a number of young adults suffering heart attacks after cocaine use, with irreversible damage to their heart muscle and substantial impact on their quality of life thereafter.

“While some people who use cocaine recreationally may not think that they are doing their body a lot of harm, our results show this is not the case, and that cocaine is dangerous for your health even when taken socially.”

According to the Australian Crime Commission's Illicit Drug Data Report 2012-2013, there was a record number of cocaine seizures last financial year. In NSW, cocaine seizures were higher than any other state.

The Australian 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report, states 7.8 per cent of Australians aged 18 and over had used cocaine in their lifetime. Users were predominantly male, aged 20–39 years, currently employed with post-school qualifications, living in major cities, and of the highest socioeconomic status.

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Rachel Cook

Rachel Cook

Rachel Cook has worked in both the queer and mainstream media for over a decade. She wrote the syndicated column, ‘Who’s Afraid of Cheeky Biscuit’, and has written numerous articles and features for the queer press. She has also written for The Age and the ABC. Before becoming editor of Melbourne Community Voice, she was a producer for ABC radio. Between 2008 and 2012, Rachel was the editor of CHERRIE. In 2010 her book, A History of Queer Australia, was published and is currently in use in high schools across Australia.

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