Street Drug Use among Emergency Patients in a Public Hospital in Turkey

  • FT Caliskan
  • I Toker
  • R Toktas
  • Z Temizyurek
  • O Unek
  • B Zirek
  • O Karcioglu
Keywords: Adverse drug effect, cannabis, ecstasy, emergency medicine, street drug user


Background: Country-specific numbers of street drug (SD) users are well documented. However, little data exists regarding these patients’ clinical presentations and outcomes in the emergency department (ED). Therefore,management of these patients in the emergency setting is still a subject of debate. Objectives: The aim of this study is to determine the symptoms and signs of SD users presenting to the ED, and to report the substances, treatments, and outcomes. Materials and Methods: In this single-center study, symptoms, clinical findings, diagnoses, and outcomes of patients who reported to have used SDs or were diagnosed as SD users were investigated within a 1-year study period. Chi-square and Mann-Whitney U tests were performed to compare independent variables. Results: Mean age of the 425 study patients was 25 ± 9 years (range: 12-64 years), and 6.1% (n = 26) of the patients were females. SDs used before presentation to the ED were mostly synthetic cannabinoids and “ecstasy.” Overall prevalence of SD user admissions in ED was 0.24%. The most common presenting complaint was weakness/faintness in 21.1% (n = 90). Depressed level of consciousness was the most common physical sign (33.3%, n = 142). Incidences of altered mental status were significantly higher among ecstasy and/or bonsai users (n = 14, 27.5%; P = 0.027 and n = 46, 64.8%; P < 0.001, respectively), compared to other SD users. While 23.1% (n = 98) of the SD users did not warrant any medical intervention, 6.6% of the users (n = 28) underwent advanced life support. Conclusions: Selfreported SD users were mostly young males who were treated symptomatically and discharged. Almost one-third-mostly ecstasy and bonsai users-had depressed level of consciousness and required resuscitation.

Keywords: Adverse drug effect, cannabis, ecstasy, emergency medicine, street drug user


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2229-7731
print ISSN: 1119-3077