Deadly New Drug Combo Found In Rhode Island – Fentanyl and Cocaine
The Providence Journal reported recently on the presence of a new deadly drug combination in Rhode Island – fentanyl and cocaine laced together. It should come as little surprise, however – fentanyl is similar to, but much more powerful than heroin. Heroin and cocaine are sometimes found together in a potentially lethal combination known as a “speedball.”
Yesterday, behavioral health officials confirmed that they have been alerting treatment providers about a large amount of cocaine laced with fentanyl recently confiscated by Rhode Island police.
Officials learned via email of the fentanyl-laced cocaine found several months ago, and hospitals have begun screening patients for the presence of fentanyl.
Fentanyl can be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and according to data from the state health department, fentanyl was involved in nearly 60% of non-intentional overdoses in 2016.
Behavioral health officials say that fentanyl is the second most common substance found in drug samples confiscated by police in 2017. Forty-eight samples also contained heroin, and in 37 cases, fentanyl was laced with cocaine. Using data from this sample, fentanyl is almost as likely to be found mixed with cocaine as heroin.
Officials are encouraging treatment providers to start offering naloxone, the anti-overdose drug indicated for fentanyl, heroin, and other opioids and opiates, to clients who have a history of cocaine abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths related to cocaine increased nearly 21% between 2006-2015. These overdoses most often including other drugs, such as opioids.
In 2015, more than 52,000 people lost their lives to a substance overdose in the U.S., including fentanyl and heroin, prescription opioids, alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs. Of those, more than 33,000 involved a legal or illicit opiate or opioid.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology