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Coke and alcohol may make you more likely to kill yourself

A new study claims that combining cocaine with alcohol can increase your risk of suicide

Cocaine’s not had the best year. Thanks to science, we now know that the white stuff can cause your brain to (literally) eat itself, make your skin rot, and stop you recognising other people’s emotions (a fact that most of you probably knew already). Now, though, it seems like these last 12 months of research have taken an even darker turn, with a new study claiming that the combination of cocaine and alcohol can make you more likely to kill yourself.

According to researchers at Brown University, taking the two drugs at once is basically toxic to your mental health; making you 2.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than others with suicidal tendencies.

The controversial study, which was published in Crisis journal, looked at 874 men and women from the US, who had been found in emergency rooms after attempting (or seriously discussing) suicide. It then tracked them, and their substance intake, for a year.

“One unexpected finding was that, when examined independently, alcohol use had no significant association and cocaine use had a borderline significant association,” revealed the authors. “However, reporting both alcohol misuse and cocaine use was significantly associated with a future suicide attempt.”

The study reveals that 195 of the participants attempted suicide at least once throughout the 12 months – and that, apparently, the combination of cocaine and alcohol appeared to have a “significant” association. “Of the entire study population, 298 misused alcohol, 72 were using cocaine and 41 were using both,” the report revealed. “Specifically, of those using both, the chance of attempting suicide again was 2.4 times greater than among people in the study who were not.” 

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that people who enjoy a bit of coke with their alcohol are at risk – rather, that suicidal people are more likely to be the ones abusing both at the same time. That said, the link is undoubtedly a compelling one, and this study has only raised more questions about what makes this particular combination so toxic to people with mental issues.

“It's not a clear-cut, straightforward association,” said Sarah Arias, the study’s lead author. “Even though substance use is often touted as a very strong predictor of suicidal intentions and behaviours, when we look at individual substances we’re seeing that there’s not that consistency in the future association with behaviour.”

“We’re on our way to trying to identify factors that can be used to better assess and identify people who are at risk for suicide, and ultimately I think this is a step in the right direction to get a better picture,” she added. “Patients who have potentially comorbid alcohol and cocaine use may be at a higher risk. Findings like these can be useful for informing suicide risk assessment.”