Headache in chronic cocaine users: A cross-sectional study

Luisa Fofi, Valerio Orlandi, Nicola Vanacore, Maria C. Mizzoni, Alba Rosa, Cinzia Aurilia, Gabriella Egeo, Pietro Casella, Piero Barbanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Methods: We investigated headache frequency and characteristics and the correlation between headache and acute cocaine intake in a cross-sectional study in a consecutive series of chronic cocaine users. Results: Participation rate was 94.1%. Of the 80 subjects enrolled, 72 (90%) reported current headaches, in most cases migraine or probable migraine without aura. Of these 72, 29 (40.3%) had a headache history, whereas 43 (59.7%) reported de novo headache after beginning to use cocaine. After acute cocaine use, a large percentage of users reported headache attacks: 86.2% of previous headache sufferers (migraine or probable migraine without aura in all cases) and 93% of de novo headache sufferers (migraine/probable migraine without aura=35; episodic tension-type headache=three patients; cocaine-induced headache = two patients). Most subjects reported that when they used cocaine headaches worsened. Conclusion: Chronic cocaine use frequently seems to worsen or induce headache with migraine or migraine-like characteristics, probably owing to a serotoninergic and dopaminergic system impairment. In headache sufferers, especially those with migraine headaches, clinicians should enquire into possible cocaine use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-678
Number of pages8
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • chronic
  • cocaine
  • cocaine-induced headache
  • disability
  • Headache
  • migraine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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