Cocaine: It Is Not An Opioid

Category: Blog

Published: September 24, 2018 by Eric Klinger

Cocaine: A New Front in the Fight Against Opioids

 Cocaine is not an opiate. It’s a highly addictive stimulant that can cause immediate, severe medical complications such as cardiac arrest and seizures. Recently, though, the number of overdose deaths related to cocaine use has spiked considerably, due largely to the fact that much of the cocaine on the market today has been laced with a synthetic opiate — fentanyl.

 According to the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. deaths related to cocaine overdose jumped nearly 51% from 2015 to 2016, from just under 7,000 to over 10,000. This is concurrent with a rise in overdose deaths where both cocaine and synthetic opioids are present, which have increased by an astonishing 171%. Clearly, fentanyl is making its way into cocaine supplies across the country. Why is this happening? It’s difficult to say, but there are a few possible explanations.

More and More Cocaine Is Being Laced with Fentanyl

Some people suggest that dealers are deliberately adding fentanyl to the cocaine to increase the likelihood of addiction. Still others believe users are more likely to be combining the drugs themselves, although the frequency with which seized cocaine tests positive for fentanyl suggests this contamination is happening before the drug hits the streets. One likely explanation is that dealers are accidentally lacing cocaine with fentanyl. Arrests of suppliers, including recent arrests here in the Toledo are, show that cocaine and fentanyl are frequently coming from the same dealers, and the potential for cross contamination is extremely high.

Regardless of the reason, though, the presence of fentanyl in cocaine presents a serious threat in the battle against opioids. That’s because many people who use cocaine, especially more casual users, do not have any kind of tolerance to opioids and are more susceptible to an overdose. That’s especially true with fentanyl, a substance that can be as much as 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. Even small amounts can be fatal to regular opioid users, making fentanyl especially fatal among people who do not typically use opioids.

Unison Health: Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

With all the new risks associated with cocaine use, quitting is now even more crucial. Withdrawal from cocaine is generally not considered physically dangerous, but the symptoms that accompany withdrawal, such as exhaustion, depression, suicidal thoughts and intense cravings, can make it extremely difficult for an individual to quit on his or her own.

The licensed, trained professionals at Unison Health can work with you to determine the best course of action to put you or someone you care about on the path to a drug-free life. Unison Health is dedicated to providing a continuum of care designed to care for the whole patient — physically and mentally — with a combination of medically monitored substance abuse treatment, behavioral health services and primary care.

The arrival of fentanyl on the drug scene has turned substance use into a virtual game of Russian Roulette, where the chance of sudden, unexpected death has risen exponentially. If you’re a parent, Unison Health urges you to talk to your children about the realities of even casual use of cocaine and other substances. If you are struggling to quit using substances, or know someone who is, contact Unison Health immediately to schedule a consultation. Call 419-214-HOPE today to learn more.