Common opioids and stimulants in autopsy and DUID cases: A comparison of measured concentrations

Simon Kjær Hermansen*, Dorte Jensen Christoffersen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Quantitative results from toxicological analyses of autopsy material are widely compared to ranges in reference works to determine if drug concentrations are in relevant levels for establishing intoxication. This study compares concentrations of commonly used opioids and stimulants from drug addict autopsies and driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) cases to supplement current knowledge of the possible span and overlaps of measured concentrations. The study included whole-blood results from forensic autopsies of drug addicts performed from 2015 to 2020 (n = 220) and DUID cases from 2015 to 2019 (n = 7088). The focus was on heroin/morphine, methadone, cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA concentrations because these drugs are commonly encountered in both fatal intoxications and DUID cases and the potential for abuse is well known. In the DUID group, the opioids heroin/morphine and methadone and the stimulants amphetamine and MDMA were often seen in concentrations above the reported lower comatose-fatal level whereas cocaine was almost always below. Thus, based on our data, the potential for false assessment of intoxication cases when comparing to reported comatose-fatal limits appears greatest on lower end concentrations of heroin/morphine, methadone, amphetamine and MDMA, whereas false assessment of cocaine appears less likely because most control cases are below reported comatose-fatal levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111387
JournalForensic Science International
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Autopsy
  • Comatose-fatal levels
  • Drugs of abuse
  • DUID
  • Intoxication
  • Toxicology


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