Substance abuse is a serious issue in the United States. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, “half of people 12 and older have used illicit drugs at least once.”
While illicit drug abuse is never safe, people used to be able to trust that the substances they were buying weren’t laced with deadly drugs like fentanyl. In the past few years, fentanyl-laced drugs have become increasingly common. According to the DEA, “of the fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills analyzed in 2022, six out of ten now contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.”
In the beginning, most of the drugs that were laced with fentanyl were other opioids like heroin or counterfeit oxycodone pills. Unfortunately, fentanyl has become so prevalent in the drug supply that many different types of substances are getting contaminated with fentanyl, making it highly unsafe to buy any type of drug off the street. Sometimes, manufacturers and dealers don’t even realize their drugs contain fentanyl. Illicit fentanyl has a similar appearance to other drugs, including cocaine.
One of the most common drugs that contain fentanyl today is cocaine. While these two drugs provide very different types of effects, some dealers are mixing fentanyl into their cocaine to increase their profit and customer base by creating a more potent drug and others simply have fentanyl-contaminated cocaine. Cocaine that is laced with fentanyl carries an extremely high risk of life-threatening and sometimes fatal overdoses.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a potent stimulant drug that is extremely addictive. This drug is derived from coca leaves in South America, where people have been chewing the plant for thousands of years. In the early 1900s, cocaine was used in tonics and elixirs to treat various illnesses.
Over time, people realized that cocaine is highly addictive and causes changes in brain structure and function when used repeatedly. This is why cocaine is now considered a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and addiction.
Cocaine comes as a white, powdery substance that people usually snort to experience a high. The short-term effects of cocaine include:
- Increased energy
- Increased mental alertness
- Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch
- Dilated pupils
- Increased body temperature
- High blood pressure and increased heart rate
High doses of cocaine can cause adverse effects such as paranoia, panic, tremors, and erratic or violent behavior. If you take too much cocaine at once, you could experience an overdose. Cocaine overdoses can cause severe medical complications like heart attacks, seizures, strokes, coma, and even sudden death.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid drug that is 50 times stronger than heroin. This substance is effective in treating severe cases of pain, but it is usually only prescribed after surgeries or to cancer patients. It is safe to use fentanyl under the direction of a doctor, however, illicitly manufactured fentanyl is never safe to consume.
According to the CDC, there were 71,238 deaths related to fentanyl overdoses in 2021. Most of the time, people who suffer from fentanyl overdoses are completely unaware that they consumed the substance in the first place.
Prescription fentanyl comes in many different forms, including a transdermal patch, lozenges, and nasal spray. Illegally manufactured fentanyl, however, usually comes in the form of a fine white powder that can resemble cocaine and other drugs.
According to the DEA, just 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal for an individual without a tolerance to opioids. Reports have stated that many of the drugs laced with fentanyl contain up to 5 milligrams of the substance, which is twice the lethal dosage.
Is Cocaine Being Laced With Fentanyl?
Most people believe the misconception that fentanyl is only found laced with other opioid drugs. While heroin and counterfeit opioid pills like oxycodone are notorious for being laced with lethal doses of fentanyl, other substances are being tainted as well. Because fentanyl is a white powdery substance that has no taste or smell, it can be mixed into practically any substance without users being able to spot it.
Fentanyl and cocaine almost look identical, making it extremely easy for drug manufacturers to lace their cocaine with the substance.
A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that 3 different New Yorkers ordered cocaine from the same drug delivery service and suffered from fatal fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl-laced cocaine is becoming a prevalent issue across the United States. The New York Times reports that 6 young men died from fentanyl-laced cocaine overdoses in West Palm Beach, Florida over the last spring break.
While it only takes a little bit of fentanyl to overdose, people often use cocaine in comparatively large amounts. People who think their drugs are pure may snort a large line of cocaine–a much larger line than they would snort if they were doing any type of opioid drug. If the cocaine is laced with fentanyl, people can easily experience a fatal overdose.
If you or a loved one abuses cocaine you must seek cocaine rehab as soon as possible.
How to Avoid a Fentanyl Overdose
While the only surefire way to avoid a fentanyl overdose is to stop buying illicit drugs, addiction is difficult to overcome, and not everyone is ready to seek treatment right away. If you or a loved one abuses illicit substances, you must be aware of the ways to lower your risk of suffering from a fentanyl overdose.
Steps to prevent a fentanyl overdose include:
- Never use drugs alone. Tell someone you are planning on using a substance and make a plan for them to check up on you.
- Know your tolerance and never use large amounts of a substance you are unfamiliar with.
- Do not mix your substances. For example, taking opioids with alcohol can increase your risk of overdosing.
- Use fentanyl test strips on your drugs before you consume them.
- Always carry naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug that can prevent you from dying in the case of a fentanyl overdose.
Naloxone is available in many pharmacies across America without a prescription. You can also obtain this life-saving substance from trusted websites online. If you or a loved one abuses illicit substances, you should always carry this medication with you.
Finding Help for Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
If you or a loved one suffers from cocaine abuse or addiction, it’s time to seek help. With a rise in fentanyl-laced cocaine across the country, being addicted to this substance is more dangerous than ever. Moving Mountains Recovery Center can help you recover from the disease of addiction and live a fulfilling life.
Contact Moving Mountains today for more information on our cocaine addiction treatment program.