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By mixing coke, methamphetamines cause opioid deaths

By mixing coke, methamphetamines cause opioid deaths

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 2, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Overdose deaths resulting from a dangerous combination cocaine and opioids a new U.S. government report warns that deaths related to cocaine abuse alone are being overcome.

“Much of the increase in the death rate from cocaine-related drug overdose in recent years is due to the emergence of opioids,” said the study’s author, Dr. Holly Hedegaard.

A similar trend is beginning to intensify, as the two abuses are combined methamphetamines and opioids. Starting in 2017, the number of deaths attributed to this pairing began to outweigh the only methane-related deaths.

Still, the role played by opioids in cocaine and methamphetamine overdoses has shifted. For example, in 2019, 54% of all methamphetamine-related deaths involved opioids. In contrast, 75.5% of all cocaine-related deaths occurred in 2019 with one or more opioids.

The findings may explain why there have been increases in deaths from cocaine and methamphetamine in recent years, suggested Hedegaard, an epidemiologist for the analysis and epidemiological distribution of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).


The overall trend observed in the analysis was different in the US regions. For example, the matching of cocaine and opioids accounted for more than 83% of all cocaine-related deaths in the Northeast, but only 63% in the West.

Similarly, deaths from a combination of methamphetamine and opioids account for nearly 80% of methane-related deaths in the Northeast, but only 44% in the West.

The research team has not studied why these drug combinations are so deadly.

But considering that “these opioids are so powerful and deadly,” the findings come as little surprise to Lindsey Vuolo, vice president of health law and policy at the Addiction Center in New York. He reviewed the findings and was not part of the investigation.

The numbers, Vuolo said, “reflect previous trends: excessive deaths associated with cocaine and psychostimulants have increased [and] Dose rates on synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl) have also increased. “


In fact, he noted that the number of deaths due to overdoses has reached a record, and cited the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimated that approximately 88,000 people died between August 2019 and August 2020 from drug overdose.


“There are more than 240 people every day, and 26.8% more than the previous year,” Vuolo said.

“Access to treatment has not improved much for those who have people addiction“He added.” This is why we continue to see large numbers of overdose deaths. People are dying because they can’t get effective care. These deaths can be prevented because addiction is treatable. “

And while the latest study was conducted before the coronavirus pandemic, “the COVID pandemic is likely to encourage an increase in drug overdoses,” Vuolo said.

“Economic loss, grief, anxiety and social isolation lead to increased substance use and the risk of people falling into recovery again,” he said. “People are also increasingly using drugs alone because of social exclusion. This means that in the case of an overdose, there is no one to administer naloxone – an opioid overdose medication – or to call 911, a deadly overdose.”

COVID has increased barriers to people’s care, Vuolo added, and treatment is even more difficult.


Hedegaard and his colleagues reported on the findings in the April issue Summary of NCHS data.

More information

There is more to the opioid epidemic U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Holly Hedegaard, MD, injury epidemiologist, analysis and epidemiology distribution, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Hyattsville, Md; Lindsey Vuolo, JD, MPH, Vice President, Health Law and Policy, Center on Addiction, New York; Summary of NCHS data, April 2021

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