Cannabis as Secondary Drug Is Not Associated with a Greater Risk of Death in Patients with Opiate, Cocaine, or Alcohol Dependence

Daniel Fuster, Arantza Sanvisens, Ferran Bolao, Paola Zuluaga, Inmaculada Rivas, Magi Farré, Jordi Tor, Robert Muga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 American Society of Addiction Medicine. Background: The health burden of cannabis use in patients with other substance dependencies is not fully understood. Objective: To assess the impact of cannabis use as secondary drug on mortality of patients with other major substance use disorders. Participants: Patients with opiate, cocaine, or alcohol dependence admitted to detoxification from 2001 to 2010 at a teaching hospital in Badalona, Spain. Main Measurements: Sociodemographic characteristics, drug use, medical comorbidities, and urine drug screens were obtained at admission. Deaths were ascertained through clinical records and a death registry. Mortality rates and Cox regression models were used to analyze the association between urinary cannabis and mortality. Results: A total of 474 patients (20% women) were admitted with a median age of 38 years (interquartile range: 32-44 years). The main substances that motivated admissions were opiates (27%), cocaine (24%), and alcohol (49%). Positive urinary cannabis was detected in 168 patients (35%). Prevalence of cannabis use among patients with opiate, cocaine, or alcohol dependence was 46.5%, 42.9%, and 25.5%, respectively. At admission, 110 (23.7%) patients had human immunodeficiency virus infection and 217 (46.5%) had hepatitis C virus infection. Patients were studied for a median of 5.6 years (interquartile range: 2.6-7.7 years) (2454.7 person-years), and at the end of the study, 50 patients (10.5%) had died, yielding a mortality rate of 2.04 × 100 patient-years (95% confidence interval: 1.53-2.66). There was no association between cannabis detection and overall mortality in the adjusted regression models [hazard ratio (95% confidence interval): 1.12 (0.60-2.00), P=0.73], but acquired immune deficiency syndrome-related deaths were more frequent in those positive for cannabis (26% vs 2%, P=0.03). Conclusion: Positive urinary cannabis did not confer an increased risk of death in patients with severe opiate, cocaine or alcohol dependence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-39
JournalJournal of Addiction Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • cannabis detection
  • drug dependence
  • mortality
  • poly-drug use


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