Gender differences in the presence of drugs in violent deaths
Article first published online: 1 NOV 2012
© 2012 The Authors, Addiction © 2012 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 108, Issue 3, pages 547–555, March 2013
How to Cite
Sheehan, C. M., Rogers, R. G., Williams, G. W. and Boardman, J. D. (2013), Gender differences in the presence of drugs in violent deaths. Addiction, 108: 547–555. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.04098.x
- Issue published online: 18 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 1 NOV 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 27 SEP 2012 12:30PM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 19 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 6 JUN 2012
- Manuscript Received: 30 MAR 2012
- University of Colorado Population Center. Grant Number: R24 HD066613
- University of Texas Population Research Center. Grant Number: R24 HD42849
- NICHD Ruth L. Kirschstien National Research Service Award. Grant Number: T32 HD007081-35
Vol. 108, Issue 6, 1176, Article first published online: 20 MAR 2013
- illicit drugs;
- violent death
To investigate differences in the presence of drugs, by gender, when considering deaths attributable to homicides and suicides.
Logistic regression analysis of mortality data collected by the Colorado Violent Death Reporting System.
Participants and setting
A total of 5791 Colorado decedents who died of violent causes from 2004 to 2009.
Forensic pathologist autopsy data on drug presence at time of death, coded as present, not present or missing.
Postmortem presence of drugs is associated strongly with the specific cause of violent death. Compared with suicide decedents, homicide decedents are significantly more likely to test positive for amphetamines [odds ratio (OR): 1.79; confidence interval (CI): 1.34, 2.39], marijuana (OR: 2.03; CI: 1.60, 2.58) and cocaine (OR: 2.60; CI: 2.04, 3.31), and are less likely to test positive for opiates (OR: 0.27; CI: 0.18, 0.39) and antidepressants (OR: 0.17; CI: 0.10, 0.28). When other drugs are controlled for the influence of alcohol is abated dramatically. The patterns of drug prevalence associated with homicide (particularly marijuana) are stronger among males; the patterns of drug prevalence associated with suicide are stronger among females.
Suicide and homicide decedents are characterized by varying patterns of licit and illicit drug use that differ by gender. Drugs associated with homicide (marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines) are stronger among males, while drugs associated with suicide are stronger among females (antidepressants and opiates). Taking these differences into consideration may allow for targeted interventions to reduce violent deaths.