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Speed Still Kills In Texas

Aug 17, 2007
A 2007 study, conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, provides researchers with additional evidence of a correlation between frequent amphetamine and cocaine usage among young individuals in Dallas, Houston and elsewhere in Texas and the occurrence of strokes.

The study looked at patients from ages 18 to 44, and then determined who had had strokes and what their risk factors were. The study doesn't show the mechanism, but it found an association between amphetamine usage and strokes.

Amphetamines and cocaine go straight into an individual's blood stream, increasing his or her blood pressure and heart rate. There were recent animal studies which showed that, when these drugs were taken intravenously, there was an inflammation of blood vessels in animals' brains. Hemorrhagic strokes result from the bleeding of tissue into the brain when a blood vessel bursts.

Jane Maxwell, a research scientist at the UT School of Social Work, has been researching similar topics for the past 30 years and said these findings were similar to her own. "I look at the death certificates of everybody in the state of Texas where cocaine is mentioned, and most of their deaths have to do with strokes and heart attacks," she said. The average age of victims in cases where cocaine is found in the body is 40, and the average age of victims in whose bodies amphetamines are found is 38, Maxwell said.

"Looking at drug use among college students, about 9 percent of college students have used cocaine. Four percent have used in the past year and 1 percent in the last month. The number of cocaine users in Texas is pretty comparable to the national average," Maxwell said. According to surveys conducted by University Health Services in the spring of 2006, the level of cocaine and amphetamine use at the University is about equal to the national rate.

Those particular drugs, methamphetamine and cocaine, versus the percentage that UT students report, is very low. One percent of men and 2 percent of women reported cocaine use in the last 30 days. Amphetamines include speed, Adderall and Ritalin, the only drugs for which there is a reported increase in use. About 4 percent of students said they used them unprescribed. A lot more women than men acknowledge using those drugs, the survey said.

Students tend to use Adderall and Ritalin as diet pills. People might also use the diet supplements to stay awake, to party longer or study longer. The numbers in amphetamine and cocaine use don't change much from year to year, but if there is an increase, it is expected to be with drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.

UT Southwestern Medical Center's study also showed that amphetamine abuse included both methamphetamines and the frequent abuse of prescription stimulants. Researchers noted that they would advise students using even these prescription drugs that there is a definite potential risk.

What you put in your body when you're young will certainly affect your health when you get older. Eventually, it will also affect your wallet.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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