Opioid use is increasing cocaine-related overdose deaths, a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed.
Christopher Jones, the study’s lead researcher, believes he may know why this is occurring: “First, we have seen heroin use increasing among people who are also using cocaine in the last several years, and we also see that there is a positive association between people who have prescription opioids use disorders and cocaine use, as well as people who have heroin use disorders and cocaine use,” he said. “[This means] that people who are using cocaine or have a cocaine use disorder are more likely than those without those disorders to have a problem with prescription opioid misuse or heroin use.”
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (CDC) gathered annual trend statistics from National Vital Statistics System, which showed that synthetic opioids and heroin were linked to these fatal cocaine overdoses. The data was analyzed from 2000 to 2015.
“Specifically to the overdose deaths, we see a couple of different things happening,” Jones said. “One is that people who are using both cocaine and opioids tend to have more significant drug use problems, which likely increases their risk for overdose. And if you are primarily using cocaine and then using opioids occasionally — you’re opioid naive or don’t have tolerance to opioids — then your risk for overdose could also be increased.”
The second is the emergence of illegally manufactured fentanyl that is mixed with heroin or sold as heroin, he continued. “We’re also seeing cases in the U.S. where people think they’re using cocaine or crack, and it’s actually fentanyl. At some point in the drug trafficking chain, fentanyl is getting mixed in with cocaine. Whether or not that’s intentional or unintentional, we don’t fully know, but it seems that the people who are using the substances do not know that to be the case.”
Overall cocaine-related overdose fatalities surged between 2000 and 2006 from 1.26 to 2.50 per 100,000 people and declined between 2006 and 2010 to 1.35; This was in sync with reduced cocaine supply and an inflation in street pricing. But cocaine-related overdose fatalities jumped to 2.13 in 2015.
Cocaine-related overdose fatalities linked with opioids jumped from… (continue reading)