Update on the profile and circumstances of today’s drug-use fatality

Research published in the journal, Forensic Science International (2001), noted that the profile of individuals dying from the use of illicit substances has changed considerably since the 1960’s, when the use of psychoactive and addictive substances began to find its way into the mainstream population.

The researchers looked at the physical condition of IO individuals whose deaths, attributable to the use of illicit drugs, occurred consecutively from 1995 to 1997, as we as the circumstances at the scene of death. They noted that though the general public and scientific literature has tended to believe that drug users are always neglected, untidy, down-and-outs, found mainly in public restrooms after having died from intoxication, that was not the case with most of these 100 victims. The researchers found that often signs of drug use are not present at death and suggested that ‘Death from drug consumption should be taken into account even it there are no drug-addiction utensils found at the scene, no visible injection marks and no signs of physical neglect.’
On autopsy, 86% were found NOT to be undernourished, and only 11% were found in public places. Interestingly, 63% were tattooed, including seven depicting cannabis leaves, and 95% showed signs of previous injection drug use.

Source: Authors: Michael Bohnert, Minou Hafez Stefan Pollak. Institute Forensic Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany. ‘The changing phenomenology of drug death over the year’. Forensic Science International 124(2001) 117-123

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