Coroners are reporting a rise in the number of ‘self-inflicted’ deaths caused by mixing cocaine and alcohol.
The use of both substances in cases where the man or woman went on to take their own lives were indicated in at least 13 deaths in the period between April 2018 and March 2019, according to the BBC.
The term ‘self-inflicted’ refers to deaths where a person who’d died by suicide or had injured or harmed themselves in other ways.
In April corner Eric Armstrong concluded that Love Island star Sophie Gradon, 32, killed herself after consuming alcohol and cocaine (Ms Gradon pictured above)
Some doctors believe that when you mix cocaine and alcohol that the body produces cocaethylene, a substance that may temporarily enhance a high but also increases poor judgement and violent thoughts.
Professor of addiction psychiatry Julia Sinclair, who is chairwoman of the faculty of addictions at the Royal College of Psychiatrists said the mix can make people more impulsive.
‘People are looking for what the ingredient that makes alcohol and cocaine such a toxic combo. It might be cocaethylene – but we don’t know and everyone has a different response,’ Professor Sinclair said.
The way coroners recorded their conclusions could be obscuring emerging trends involving a combination of alcohol and cocaine, she added.
A number of high profile deaths in the last year have been found to involve both substances.
In April, corner Eric Armstrong concluded that Love Island star Sophie Gradon, 32, killed herself after consuming alcohol and cocaine.
In his concluding remarks, Armstrong said mixing alcohol and cocaine could make a person 16 times more likely to kill themselves.
A second Love Island contestants Mike Thalassitis (pictured above) took his own life at the age of 26 after taking a lethal cocktail of cocaine, alcohol and paracetamol. In June it was ruled that Mike’s death was a suicide after toxicology results showed he took a lethal cocktail of cocaine, alcohol and paracetamol
Coroner’s warning over cocaine and alcohol suicide risk
Earlier this year a coroner issued a warning about mixing alcohol and cocaine, pointing to research in the US which says the combination was known to make someone 16 times more likely to kill themselves.
The study, conducted at Brown University in 2016, looked at hundreds of suicidal emergency department (ED) patients from around the US.
Led by professor Sarah Arias, the team examined 874 men and women admitted at one of eight emergency departments around the country between 2010 and 2012.
The key outcome in the study was whether people attempted suicide in the year following the ED visit. Of the 874 people, 195 people did at least once.
Of the patients, 298 misused alcohol, 72 were using cocaine and 41 were using both.
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.
Miss Gradon was found dead in her home in Ponteland, Northumberland in June 2018.
Toxicology tests showed Ms Gradon had a blood reading of 201mg per 100ml of blood around three times the legal driving limit, as well as cocaine.
Her body was discovered by her boyfriend Aaron Armstrong, 25, and his brother.
Only three weeks later, Aaron Armstrong went on to take his own life after mixing alcohol and cocaine.
The coroner in this case also partly blamed his death on him taking the combination of the two substances.
A second Love Island contestants Mike Thalassitis, 26, also took his own life after taking a lethal cocktail of cocaine, alcohol and paracetamol.
In June it was ruled that Mike’s death was a suicide after toxicology results showed he took a lethal cocktail of cocaine, alcohol and paracetamol before he hanged himself.
The former pro-footballer was found in woodland in Edmonton, North London on March 15th.
The Victoria Derbyshire programme also found that cocaine and alcohol were factors in another five deaths in England and one in Wales in the same period between April 2018 and March 2019. In all cases, coroners said there wasn’t enough evidence to record a conclusion of suicide.
Speaking on the programme, Ian Hamilton, Senior Lecturer in Addiction at York University said more needs to be done to understand the scale of the problem and to look at the effects when multiple drugs are taken together rather than looking at a drug in isolation.
‘Cocaine is easier to access than an anti-depressant drug,’ he said.
Danny Bennett, who is seven years clean, said the ‘come down’ from taking cocaine mixed with alcohol is horrendous.
‘I was ready to go, I didn’t want to be on the planet,’ he said.
Logan Woolliscroft, 21, (pictured) died after falling off a cliff near his family’s Derbyshire home in 2018. A bottle of Disaronno liqueur and 8g of cocaine bags were found at the top of the cliff by his father, Steve. A photo of Logan on his sister Tillie’s Facebook page
Logan Woolliscroft, 21, died after falling off a cliff near his family’s Derbyshire home in 2018.
A bottle of Disaronno liqueur and 8g of cocaine bags were found at the top of the cliff by his father, Steve. His body was later recovered.
Logan was an engineer and a talented footballer.
Coroner Peter Nieto recorded an open conclusion, stating there was not enough evidence to say it was definitely suicide.
He added it was possible Logan may have accidentally fallen because he was intoxicated or because he lost his footing or a combination of both.
Logan’s father Steve Woolliscroft said he believed that his death was ‘100 percent’ caused by taking cocaine and alcohol together.
‘To mix a stimulant with a depressant, it muddles your brain up completely and you just don’t know where you are,’ he said.
In a statement, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said it was investing £25m in suicide-prevention efforts.
‘We are also committed to reducing drug-and-alcohol-related harms and have commissioned a major independent review of drugs to help inform our thinking. And as part of the NHS long-term plan we are rolling out alcohol-care teams in hospitals with the highest number of alcohol-related admissions,’ the statement read.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.