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Estimating the incidence of cocaine use and mortality with music lyrics about cocaine.

Abstract

In the United States, cocaine use and mortality have surged in the past 5 years. Considering cocaine's reputation as a fashionable social drug, the rise of cocaine mentions in popular music may provide a signal of epidemiological trends of cocaine use. We characterized the relationship between mentions of cocaine in song lyrics and incidence of cocaine use and mortality in the US. Incidence of cocaine use from 2002 to 2017 was obtained from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and cocaine overdose mortality rate from 2000 to 2017 was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control. Distributed lag models were fit using ordinary least squares on the first difference to identify associations between changes in cocaine lyric mentions and changes in incidence of cocaine use and mortality. A total of 5955 song lyrics with cocaine mentions were obtained from Lyrics.com. Cocaine mentions in song lyrics were stable from 2000 to 2010 then increased by 190% from 2010 to 2017. The first-order distributed lag model estimated that a 0.01 increase in mentions of cocaine in song lyrics is associated with an 11% increase in incidence of cocaine use within the same year and a 14% increase in cocaine mortality with a 2-year lag. Lag-times were confirmed with cross-correlation analyses and the association remained after accounting for street pricing of cocaine. Mentions of cocaine in song lyrics are associated with the rise of incidence of cocaine use and cocaine overdose mortality. Popular music trends are a potentially valuable tool for understanding cocaine epidemiology trends.

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