New York Health Officials Warn Public About Rising Overdoses Related To Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine
Last week, an announcement from the New York City Health Department revealed that the city has experienced a dramatic increase in the past year in deadly overdoses related to a combination of cocaine and fentanyl. In a release, city health providers were urged to educate patients who use cocaine.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid not unlike heroin, but is many times more powerful. It’s also cheap to make and a little bit goes a long way, so it’s common for dealers to use it in lieu of heroin. But the amount of fentanyl put into other drugs varies greatly, and users often don’t know exactly what it is they are really getting.
According to a press release, fentanyl-laced cocaine has become increasingly common and has been responsible for a startling number of deaths. Of the 1,300 that died of an overdose in the city last year, 37% had a mixture of cocaine and fentanyl in their system – a marked rise from just 11% in 2015.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett:
“All New Yorkers who use drugs, even if only occasionally, should know their drugs may be mixed with fentanyl.”
Also, areas in California, Canada, Ohio, and Rhode Island have seen deaths related to cocaine and fentanyl.
Fortunately, there is an antidote – naloxone. When administered, the drug, which is available over-the-counter at most pharmacies, can very effectively reverse an opioid overdose in progress. It has saved thousands of lives, but still, many more have been lost.
According to the press release, in 2016, 44% of all overdose fatalities in New York were related to fentanyl, up from 16% in 2015. In fact, more New Yorkers died from drug overdoses than homicide, suicide, or car accidents combined.
In 2015, more than 33,000 persons in the U.S. died from overdoses related to opioid, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology