The aim of the study was to provide information on illicit drug abuse stigmata and general pathological findings among an adult narcotic drug-using population aged 20 to 59 years whose death was nonnatural. A total of 1603 medicolegal autopsy reports from 2000 to 2009 concerning cases positive for morphine, heroin, amphetamines, ecstasy, cannabis, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), PCP (phencyclidine), and high levels of GHB (γ-hydroxybutyric acid) in addition to methadone and buprenorphine were investigated. Reported findings of hepatitis, portal lymphadenopathy, recent injection marks, drug user’s equipment, and numbers of significant pathological conditions were registered and analyzed according to cases positive for opiates, opioids (OPs), and central nervous system (CNS)–stimulating illicit drugs, respectively.
Of the selected cases, 1305 were positive for one or more opiate or OP. Cases positive for OPs had significantly more findings of noninfectious pathological conditions.
Hepatitis, portal lymphadenopathy, recent injections marks findings of drug user’s equipment were all findings found more frequently among the opiate OP-positive individuals. Portal lymphadenopathy was significantly more often found in cases with hepatitis than in cases with other or no infection. In the population positive for CNS stimulants, hepatitis recent injection marks were more frequent findings than in the CNS stimulant-negative group, irrespective of whether they were opiate OP positive or negative.