The prevalence and effect of alcohol and drug abuse on cohort-matched critically injured patients

Edward E. Cornwell, Howard Belzberg, George Velmahos, Linda S. Chan, Demetrios Demetriades, B. Montgomery Stewart, Danila B. Oder, Deborah Kahaku, Dennis Chan, Juan A. Asensio, Thomas V. Berne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


A prospective study was undertaken at a Level I trauma center to evaluate the prevalence of substance use among victims of major trauma, along with the impact on clinical outcome. Five hundred sixteen patients had urine toxicology and blood alcohol screens performed and correlated with pattern and severity of injury, hospital course, and outcome. Three hundred seventy- one patients (71%) screened positive for alcohol or drugs, or both. Fifty- two per cent had positive alcohol screens, and 42 per cent had positive drug screens (cocaine and opiates represented 91% of positive drug screens). Univariate analysis revealed patterns of alcohol/drug use varied among subgroups according to demographics (less use among patients older than 55 years, females and Asians; more drug use in blacks; more alcohol use in Hispanics), mechanism of injury (non-use in blunt trauma patients and use of both in penetrating trauma patients) and body region injured (non-use in head-injured patients). Septic complications and mortality were more correlative with severity of injury, but not with use or non-use of alcohol or drugs. We conclude that alcohol and drug use remains a major comorbid factor in major trauma, and that injury prevention efforts should include a strong focus on counseling regarding these lifestyle choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-465
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 18 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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