Cocaine Laced With Fentanyl Causing Growing Number of Deaths

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A growing number of drug overdose deaths are due to cocaine laced with fentanyl, NPR reports. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 7 percent of cocaine seized in New England in 2017 included fentanyl, up from 4 percent the previous year. In Connecticut, the number of deaths involving fentanyl-laced cocaine has increased 420 percent in the last three years. Massachusetts officials say an increasing amount of fentanyl-laced cocaine is changing hands on the streets. The DEA, in its National Drug Threat Assessment, says people typically add fentanyl to cocaine for the purpose of “speedballing,” which combines the rush of cocaine with a drug that depresses the nervous system, such as heroin. Some experts told NPR fentanyl may be mixed with cocaine accidentally during packaging. Others say drug cartels are adding fentanyl to cocaine to expand the market of people who are addicted to opioids.
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Drug Overdose Deaths Continue to Climb: CDC

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The rate of drug overdose deaths continues to increase in the United States, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The death rate for drug overdoses reached 19.9 cases per 100,000 people last summer, compared with 16.7 per 100,000 the previous summer, HealthDay reports. The CDC also found an increase in drug overdose deaths for the 12-month period ending in September 2016, compared with the same period a year before—18.5 overdose deaths per 100,000, up from 16.1 deaths per 100,000. Of the 52,404 overdose deaths in 2015, the CDC found 33,091 involved opioids. Prescription or synthetic opioid pain relievers were involved in more than two-thirds of opioid-related overdose deaths.
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Drug Overdose Deaths Rose 19 Percent in 2016

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Drug overdose deaths increased 19 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to a preliminary analysis of data by The New York Times . Evidence suggests the problem, driven by opioid addiction, has continued to worsen this year. An influx of fentanyl and similar drugs is escalating the death count. Drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50, the article notes. Large increases in drug overdose deaths were seen last year in Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In Ohio, overdose deaths rose by more than 25 percent. The New York Times came up with its estimate based on drug overdose statistics from state health departments, county medical examiners and coroners’ offices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will calculate final 2016 overdose totals in December.
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Percentage of Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Heroin Tripled in Five Years

Percentage of Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Heroin Tripled in Five Years
A new government report finds 25 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2015 involved heroin, triple the percentage in 2010. The National Center for Health Statistics found the percentage of overdose deaths from prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone decreased to 24 percent in 2015, from 29 percent in 2010, Reuters reports. Cocaine was associated with 13 percent of overdose deaths in 2015, up from 11 percent in 2010. The four states with the highest drug overdose deaths in 2015 were West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio. Overdose death rates increased for all groups, but the sharpest increase was among those ages 55 to 64.
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Trump Administration Will Face Hurdles in Reducing Opioid Overdose Deaths

Trump Administration Will Face Hurdles in Reducing Opioid Overdose Deaths
President-Elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to solve the nation’s opioid crisis, faces significant hurdles in achieving that campaign promise, according to The Wall Street Journal. Much of the work of preventing drug overdose deaths is done at the local level, the article notes. Newer and deadlier versions of opioids are continually appearing. In addition, complex regulatory changes are often needed to rework federal drug policies. Trump has vowed to dismantle parts of the Affordable Care Act, which requires millions of subsidized health plans to cover treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. He has vowed to prosecute illegal drug traffickers more aggressively, and to close shipping loopholes that he says allow the Chinese to mail synthetic fentanyl into the country. He also called for reducing the amounts of legal prescription opioids that can be manufactured and sold in the United States, and increasing access to naloxone for first...
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Drug Overdose Deaths Lead to Increase in Organ Donations

Drug Overdose Deaths Lead to Increase in Organ Donations
The increasing number of drug overdose deaths has led to a rise in the number of organ donations, according to The New York Times . In New England, which has seen a surge of drug overdose deaths, there have been organ donations this year from 69 people who died of an overdose. This accounts for 27 percent of all donations in the region. In 2010, 4 percent of donors in New England died of drug overdoses. More than 970 people who died of drug overdoses nationwide have donated organs so far this year. This accounts for about 12 percent of total donations. In 2010, about 4 percent of U.S. organ donations came from people who died of drug overdoses. Dr. David Klassen, Chief Medical Officer for the United Network for Organ Sharing, which administers the nation’s organ procurement network, told the newspaper that these donors tend to be younger and...
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Medical Examiners and Coroners Struggle to Keep Up With Drug Overdose Deaths

Medical Examiners and Coroners Struggle to Keep Up With Drug Overdose Deaths
Medical examiners and coroners around the nation are struggling to deal with the large number of drug overdose deaths, the Associated Press reports. The surge in overdose deaths is leading to a shortage of places to store bodies, and long waits for autopsies and toxicology testing, the article notes. The coroner’s office in Hamilton County in Cincinnati has a 100-day backlog of DNA testing for police drug investigations, in large part due to the rise in overdose deaths. Medical examiners in Connecticut and Wisconsin have had to find new places to store bodies when their storage area nears capacity. Overdose deaths have added to existing problems in medical examiner and coroner offices, which include inadequate facilities, budget woes and a shortage of forensic pathologists who are qualified to perform autopsies. Some offices risk losing accreditation because their pathologists are likely to perform more than 325 autopsies a year—the limit set...
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Facing Addiction and The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) are proud to announce the merger of our organizations – creating a national leader in turning the tide on the addiction epidemic.
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