Cocaine is driving a fresh boom in overdose deaths in America, a new CDC report reveals.
While the rate of people dying from all drugs increased 21.5 percent in 2016, the biggest increase was seen among cocaine users, with a 52.4 percent increase in deaths compared to the 10 percent increase among opioid users.
Officials believe the immense surge is being fueled by a new market: cocaine cut with fentanyl, the highly-addictive sedative which is more powerful than heroin.
Fears of this have been brewing lately – Connecticut recently reported a 420 percent increase in deaths involving cocaine and fentanyl since 2015, and the rate of fentanyl-laced cocaine seized by police in Massachusetts has tripled since 2016.
The new CDC analysis, published on Thursday, is the latest evidence to show cocaine’s ascent as the fastest growing killer on the drug market – as the rate of opioid deaths shows no sign of slowing down.
Connecticut has seen a 420 percent rise in cocaine and fentanyl deaths since 2015, and the rate of fentanyl-laced cocaine seized in Massachusetts tripled. A new CDC report adds further evidence
WHY WOULD ANYONE MIX FENTANYL AND COCAINE?
Cocaine, a schedule II drug, is known as an ‘upper’, since it is a stimulant that makes users alert and energized.
Fentanyl, also schedule II, is known as a ‘downer’, since it is a powerful sedative that triggers a state of relaxation.
Combining the two is not new: according to the DEA the drugs are mixed to create a ‘speedballing’ effect, triggering a ‘rush’ of cocaine with the numbness of fentanyl.
‘The desired outcome is for the user to experience the “high” from the cocaine with the depressant (heroin or fentanyl) helping ease the otherwise sharp comedown after the effects of the cocaine subside,’ the DEA explained in its latest report.
However, some believe dealers may be lacing cocaine with fentanyl, not for its effect, but to capitalize on its addictive qualities, luring users back for more.
Others believe it may be something of an accident.
Either way, fentanyl is incredibly lethal and likely fatal for users who have not taken opioids before.
The report is a new analysis of the 2016 drugs death data, which revealed drugs killed 63,000 Americans in one year alone.
Many have speculated that we may be past the peak and measures to control painkiller prescriptions could be turning the tide.
However, amid efforts to crack down on prescription drugs, the once-marginal industry of highly-addictive synthetic drugs laced with the powerful sedative fentanyl is on the rise.
The new CDC report revealed the overdose death rate from drugs laced with fentanyl more than doubled.
Reflecting on the new analysis, CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, MD, said anyone who suggests we have this epidemic under control is getting ahead of themselves.
‘No area of the United States is exempt from this epidemic — we all know a friend, family member, or loved one devastated by opioids,’ Dr Schuchat said.
‘All branches of the federal government are working together to reduce the availability of illicit drugs, prevent deaths from overdoses, treat people with substance-use disorders, and prevent people from starting using drugs in the first place.’
Sixteen states were hit particularly hard by this new brand of cocaine, the report revealed, with the highest rates seen in Washington DC, Rhode Island, and Ohio.
Meanwhile, West Virginia remains the most blighted state by every other drug.
The report’s lead author, Puja Seth, PhD, said the new in-depth look at the 2016 data should renew urgency to form stronger alliances between police and medics.
‘Effective, synchronized programs to prevent drug overdoses will require coordination of law enforcement, first responders, mental health/substance-abuse providers, public health agencies, and community partners,’ Dr Seth said.