Background: Our aim was to study the evolution of cocaine-related health problems in Catalonia, Spain. Methods: Analysis of first treatment admissions, emergency-room episodes, and mortality recorded by information systems on drug abuse in Catalonia and the city of Barcelona (Spain) in 1999. Results: In 1999, cocaine was the illegal drug most frequently reported among drug-related emergency-room episodes (1,093 episodes in the city of Barcelona). In addition, cocaine was the illegal drug most frequently found among fatal drug overdoses (80% of all deaths in the last quarter of 1999) and the one that caused the highest number of treatment admissions (1,547 cases in Catalonia). Conclusions: There is an increase in cocaine-related health problems which means that it is needed health to improve the diagnosis, health education, treatment and prevention of complications associated with the use of this substance.
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