Trauma risk perception related to alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine intake

Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg. 2014 Dec;40(6):693-9. doi: 10.1007/s00068-014-0384-9. Epub 2014 Feb 15.


Objective: A high perception of risk may exert a preventive effect against the initiation of risky activities. The aims of the present study were (1) to analyze the risk perception for traumatic incidents according to drug intake (alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, no consumption) by trauma patients admitted to our hospital, and (2) to explore the influence of drugs on trauma recidivism.

Methods: Between 1 November 2011 and 1 April 2012, 404 patients aged between 16 and 70 years were admitted to our hospital for trauma cases. In 363 (89.9 %) of the patients, data were gathered on age, the trauma mechanism, and the consumption of alcohol and other drugs. Out of these 363 patients, 286 (78.8 %) attended a motivational interview and reported their consumption habits and their perception of the risk of trauma after alcohol and/or illegal drug consumption, as well as the antecedents of previous traumatisms.

Results: Alcohol and/or illegal drugs were detected in 37 % of the sample, with alcohol being the most frequently detected, followed by cannabis, cocaine, and other drugs. Among the trauma patients with no consumption, a high perception of trauma risk was associated with alcohol intake by 95.9 %, with cannabis consumption by 68.4 %, and with cocaine consumption by 53.4 %, whereas these percentages were significantly lower for patients testing positive for substances (79.3, 21.1, and 8.3 % respectively). Among the patients experiencing their first trauma, the mean age was almost 15 years younger in those who were positive for these substances than in those who were negative (p < 0.001). Finally, a history of previous trauma was reported by a majority (64 %) of the trauma patients testing positive for alcohol and/or drugs, but by a minority (36 %) of those testing negative (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The low perception of risk associated with alcohol, cannabis, or cocaine consumption by trauma patients under the influence of these substances on admission may be a predisposing factor for recidivism. Recommendations for both primary and secondary prevention are presented.

Keywords: Alcohol; Drugs; Motivational intervention; Risk perception; Trauma recidivism.