Opioid deaths continue grab headlines, but other illicit drug use is still happening and overdoses are on the rise across all dangerous controlled substances. 70,000 people nationally died of overdoses in 2017 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of these, each year from 2011 to 2017, cocaine remained second or third within the rankings as the drug most responsible for the overdose deaths.
Even controlling for the issue of cocaine supplies being contaminated with fentanyl, cocaine deaths remain stubbornly high. The fentanyl contamination has contributed greatly to the recent rise of cocaine overdoses since it takes very little fentanyl to result in death. Investigations as to where the fentanyl contamination of cocaine originates from have been inconclusive. Speculation on the part of officials investigating the issue point to negligence by the drug handlers. When fentanyl passes through the same groups of distributors that also handle cocaine, grinders and other tools for creating the form the drugs are distributed as on the street are not being properly cleaned.
Normally, this might not be an incredibly big deal, but because of the incredible potency of fentanyl, which is ranges about 50 to 100 times the strength of morphine or heroin, even a few grains can prove to be lethal to someone who’s built up a tolerance for opioids. Typically, a cocaine user will stick with cocaine, and so without their body used to the effects, it takes even less than an opioid addict could process in order to result in nearly instant death.
Cocaine itself is still a dangerous drug, especially for those with addictive traits. The nature of the drug shorts the brain’s sensation of pleasure by triggering neurotransmitters more than normal when used, which is a contributing factor to most kinds of substance addictions. Cocaine is especially addictive due to its effects in this manner. Considering this ability of the drug to induce substance use disorder in it’s users, it becomes even more dangerous to handle when the purity of the drug becomes a complete unknown to a person just looking for a fix. What could be a very timid dosage for a cocaine user can quickly turn into fatal dose of fentanyl.
The problem of cocaine usage, however, remains high despite these issues of purity and overdoses of pure cocaine continue to rise, right along with other drugs that have taken a backseat in the media coverage including meth and heroin. It’s more important than ever to seek treatment from addiction to illicit drugs which could be contaminated with far more dangerous substances like fentanyl. If cocaine’s effects alone weren’t worth considering getting treatment, maybe this new trend could be convincing to users to consider help.
Detox centers in PA offer addiction treatment for people suffering substance use disorder involving cocaine and other drugs. Call Philadelphia Counseling Center at 610-298-1999 to discuss treatment options, including intensive outpatient services in Philly.