Opioid use linked to rise in cocaine overdoses

0.37 to 0.91, from 2000 to 2006 and reduced to 0.57 in 2010. However, it escalated to 1.36, in 2015, even though the use of cocaine had shrunk.

“As overall cocaine use has declined, the people who are still using cocaine are increasingly using heroin or prescription opioids,” Jones said.

Cocaine-related overdose fatalities not linked with opioids escalated from 0.89 to 1.59 from 2000 to 2006 and then dropped to 0.78 in 2015.

These data allowed researchers to confirm that the latest increase was, in fact, related to cocaine-induced overdose fatalities linked opioid use. This also coincides with the thriving availability and consumption of heroin and illegally produced fentanyl in the U.S. 

The findings illuminate the value of public health approaches such as easier access to naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal antidote.

It’s important for communities to “be cognizant of what drugs are being sold in their area if people are doing drugs,” Jones said. “From a broader community perspective, taking steps to reduce stigma around addiction, that treatment is available and is effective, working across sectors in the criminal justice, public health, the medical communities and faith-based sectors to identify opportunities to reduce stigma to engage people in treatment, expanding access to naloxone in communities has been a successful strategy in many communities.”