Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Fentanyl, an added ingredient, drives increases in deaths from cocaine and methamphetamine overdoses

The same drug that is driving opioid-overdose deaths is also causing a surge in deaths from cocaine and overdoses of psychostimulants such as methamphetamine and legal drugs like Adderall.

"That’s according to a new analysis of death certificate data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing that fentanyl — a cheap synthetic opioid that is a hundred times more potent than morphine — and other opioids were involved in nearly three-fourths of all cocaine overdose deaths and an increasing number of methamphetamine deaths," Christine Vestal reports for Stateline, the nonprofit, nonpartisan reporting arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Dealers are adding fentanyl to cocaine and meth.

Death rates from cocaine and psychostimulants increased from 2016 to 2017 in both rural and urban areas, and the most rural counties showed the biggest relative rate increase, the CDC study says. Efforts to fight the overdose epidemic have mostly focused on opioids, which have killed more than 700,000 Americans since 1999, but CDC officials say states and localities need to be more aware of emerging threats like fentanyl, Vestal reports.

Christopher Jones, strategy director at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, told Vestal: "Broader awareness of emerging drug threats and how they intersect with the opioid-overdose crisis will help public health officials and the health care community better tailor their prevention and response efforts for all the substances and combinations of substances people are using in their community."

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