It’s no secret that our country has a drug problem. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that in 2017 a person died more often from a drug overdose than in a car accident.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the CDC recently published a report examining the death rate from cocaine overdoses between 2009 and 2018. After remaining stable from 2009 to 2013, the death rate tripled between 2013 and 2018. Cocaine mixed with opioids played an important role in increasing mortality rates. And, according to the report, blacks are more likely to die from cocaine overdoses than other populations.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment Report warned that sometimes the user is unaware that an opioid such as synthetic fentanyl has been added to cocaine. This can lead to a medical emergency for a user who has not developed tolerance to opioids.

Eric Morse, MD, a North Carolina addiction and sports psychiatrist who was interviewed by email, said the addition of fentanyl derivatives to cocaine significantly lowered the price of what can be bought on the street. Doctors are reducing the prescription so the cost of legitimate pills has increased significantly. It almost forces people to turn to Fentanyl Street. “

According to the DEA report, street prices for cocaine fell to a low of $ 153 per gram in the four years to December 2017. During the same period, the price of heroin soared to a high of $ 1,168 per gram.

It is now 2020 and the death toll is still rising. Holly Hedegaard, MD, author of the NCHS report, told Medical Daily, “Preliminary estimates from NCHS … suggest the numbers continued to rise in 2019 and early 2020.”

“Prevention and improved access to care,” said Dr. Morse when asked what needs to be done to reduce the number of overdose deaths.

Dr. Morse alluded to the death in 1986 of the University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, who died of a cocaine overdose at the age of 22 after being selected by the Boston Celtics on the NBA draft in his email.

“I know if they can die from cocaine anyone can,” wrote Dr. Morse.

The take away

If you need help with a drug addiction, don’t try to deal with it on your own. Contact your doctor or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).