Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Spreading Death Sparks Warning From Police

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Authorities in a Massachusetts community are warning residents over a rapid influx of fentanyl-laced cocaine that is causing a rash of “unexpected” fatal overdoses.

Officials with the Opioid Epidemic Task Force in Lowell, Mass., held a meeting at City Hall Monday to warn residents about rising deaths linked to cocaine cut with the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. Authorities said dealers are increasingly cutting fentanyl, which is roughly 30 to 50 times more powerful than pure heroin, into their drug supplies to maximize profits, reported the Lowell Sun.

A full accounting of overdose deaths among users who thought they were simply taking cocaine is not available, but emergency personnel responded to 56 opioid-related incidents in April. (RELATED: Heroin-Fueled Father Drives Kids, Rampages Through Neighborhood Before Passing Out And Crashing)

“Due to these reports, we feel confident saying that fentanyl is being added to cocaine in our area,” said Lainnie Emond, substance-abuse coordinator for the Lowell Health and Human Services Department, according to the Lowell Sun. “This contamination has led to unexpected and unintentional fatal and nonfatal opioid-related overdoses.”

Cocaine is increasingly being linked to drug overdose deaths in the U.S. due to dealers cutting supplies with synthetic opioids. Cocaine deaths spiked by 52 percent nationally between 2015 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following many years of relatively stable numbers.

Officials estimate the substance is now killing roughly 13,000 Americans each year, up from 6,700 in 2015.

Authorities fear that because cocaine is more widely used as a social drug than a substance like heroin, many users are unaware of the fatal risks even a small amount of the drug now carries.

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