Two drugs, heroin and cocaine, both addictive and hazardous to one’s health yet one of the drugs is cast in a far darker light. One might argue that the discrepancy is for a good reason; after all, a far more significant number of overdose deaths stem from opioids than stimulants like cocaine. People consider cocaine as being safer than heroin resulting in increased social acceptance. More than a hundred people aren’t dying from cocaine overdoses every day.
While heroin and opioids, in general, are deadlier than cocaine, the latter is used more often—especially for recreation. The potential for cocaine misuse and abuse is significantly higher, and the drug is commonly used in conjunction with other substances as well, mainly alcohol. You may not associate cocaine with overdose, but it was involved in thousands of deaths in past several years across the country.
Cocaine with a Side of Fentanyl
Mixing stimulants and opioids occurs on a regular basis among people with opioid use disorder. However, your average social cocaine user flirts with opioids only on rare occasions. If offered a “downer,” most people who use cocaine recreationally will say, “no thanks.” Which is why a new trend has people concerned, the heightened prevalence of cocaine laced with fentanyl. Having an opioid "tolerance" and being exposed to fentanyl is dangerous enough, for those without a tolerance—overdose is almost a guarantee.
In New York, 37 percent of overdose deaths in 2015 involved cocaine and fentanyl; heroin was not part of the equation. Officials see cocaine and fentanyl admixtures outside the Empire State; cocaine samples tested positive for the synthetic opioid in both Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee, USA Today reports. Anyone who uses or abuses cocaine should understand that the stakes just got higher.
“To be blunt, what you might buy and use [cocaine], thinking it’s a good time, could cost you your life,” warns T.J. Jordan, Assistant Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation: Drug Investigation Division.
Overdose death can easily happen without the introduction of synthetic opioids. Fentanyl and carfentanil, an even stronger analog, are being mixed with other drugs frequently these days. Naloxone, to make matters worse, is not enough to reverse an overdose in many cases. The only 100 percent effective way to avoid the risk of overdose is addiction treatment and working a program of recovery. Perhaps the most concerning feature of this new trend:
“Those that are using cocaine recreationally, their usage is going to increase because of the physical addictive aspects of opiates are being injected into the cocaine,” said Patrick O’Shea, a former recreational drug user. “It’s shaping up to be a disaster.”
Recovery is the Solution
Those caught in the vicious cycle of substance use disorder face great risks today. Fentanyl isn’t going anywhere and is likely to become more prevalent. Seeking addiction treatment and recovery is the only sure way to avoid exposure to fentanyl. Please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea to begin the life-saving mission of addiction recovery.