Mortality risk in a sample of emergency department patients who use cocaine with alcohol and/or cannabis

Devin Gilmore, Jennifer Zorland, Joanna Akin, J. Aaron Johnson, James G. Emshoff, Gabriel P. Kuperminc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Illicit drug use is common among emergency department (ED) patients, yet the association between drug use and subsequent mortality is not well understood. This study examines 36-month mortality rates for a sample of ED patients based on reported use of alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine, both individually and in combination. Methods: Patients (N = 1669) from 2 urban EDs were surveyed at the time of the visit. The patient survey included the Alcohol Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) and information on physical and mental health, health care utilization, and risk factors associated with substance use. ASSIST scores were used to categorize patients into drug risk groups. Mortality information from the National Death Index was used to calculate mortality rates from 2009 to 2012. A Cox regression model identified associations between drug risk groups and mortality while controlling for patient demographics. Results: The use of cocaine and cannabis both individually and in combination was associated with significantly higher mortality risk compared with other ED patients. Conclusions: ED patients who use cannabis and cocaine have higher mortality risks than other patients. Further research is necessary to determine whether this result is stable across racial/ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-270
Number of pages5
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Mortality risk
  • polydrug use
  • substance-related mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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