Is The Opioid Epidemic Causing An Increase In Cocaine Overdose?

The opioid epidemic found its peak from the early 2000’s to just a few years ago. So did cocaine. Cocaine-related deaths dropped between 2006 and 2010 but rose again between 2010 to 2015. That timing was parallel with an increase in opioid-related deaths. Part of the reason for the connection is that illegal opioids like heroin, synthetic fentanyl, and painkiller pills meant to be opioids were actually being cut with cocaine. On the other hand, researchers found that cocaine, a white substance, was being laced with opioids, which can also be white when pills are ground up. Another reason, research has found, is that many people who abuse opioids also abuse cocaine.

Overdose Concerns

According to Livescience, “The number of people who died after overdosing on both cocaine and opioids increased between 2006 and 2015, while the number of those who died from cocaine-only overdoses decreased during the same time period.” Cocaine and opioids together creates a deadly combination which has famously claimed lives. Saturday Night Live veterans and comedy stars John Belushi and Chris Farley both died of intravenous doses of opioids mixed with cocaine- Belushi with heroin and Farley with Morphine. Commonly called a “speedball”, the combination is counterproductive, causing chaos in the body. Heroin and any opioid substance is a “downer” while cocaine is a powerful “upper”. Opioids and amphetamines are not commonly used together. Speedballs are considered reckless and dangerous, especially when done intravenously.

Overdose on cocaine and on opioids is often accidental, quite obviously when someone is unaware one substance is present in the other. Drugs bought on the black market are never guaranteed in the purity or their potency. It is easy to overdose with increasingly strong and dangerous drugs.

If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine or opioid addiction, help is available. LEAD Recovery Center is an extended care program designed to help you learn how to live without drugs and alcohol through leadership, experiential adventure therapy, and clinical treatment. For more information, call 1-800-380-0012.