Fentanyl and Cocaine: Why It’s a Deadly Combination
By: Design for Change Recovery
Most illicit drugs are deadly when taken in large doses. When two or more of the drugs are combined, they become even more lethal. Although fentanyl is used to lace several common street drugs, this article will focus on the specific dangers of combining fentanyl and cocaine.
Anyone who buys drugs from street dealers is at risk of unknowingly ingesting fentanyl. Why is this happening? Because fentanyl is cheap and easily obtained, drug dealers mix it with other drugs to increase potency and profits. Drugs such as heroin, meth, MDMA, and cocaine may contain fentanyl. It’s just not likely that an unsuspecting buyer will find out this information from the dealer.
What Is the Difference Between Illicit and Prescription Fentanyl?
Prescription fentanyl is used medically to treat severe pain. It is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. As a street drug, it is used to produce euphoric effects. A majority of the illicit fentanyl supply is manufactured in China and trafficked into the U.S. through Mexico.
Legally produced fentanyl is administered in lozenges or patches. Illicit fentanyl is typically sold in powder form that can be used for inhalation, injection, patches, or blotter paper. Illicit fentanyl can also be processed into counterfeit pills that resemble prescription opioids, often referred to as M30s.
Individuals who use straight fentanyl are aware of the risks they’re taking in most cases. In contrast, those who unknowingly consume fentanyl do not have a choice.
Why Is the Combination of Fentanyl and Cocaine So Deadly?
Many people use cocaine regularly without suffering an overdose. This doesn’t mean it’s completely safe, however. Today, when some people buy cocaine, they often receive far more than they bargained for. They may be expecting cocaine, but are getting a secret side-order of fentanyl.
Cocaine users don’t typically use opioids, so they don’t have a tolerance for them. Then, when they ingest cocaine laced with fentanyl, the results are deadly. They are also unlikely to be carrying naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an overdose. Unfortunately, naloxone does not always work when fentanyl is present in a person’s system.
The combination of cocaine and fentanyl is dangerous because cocaine is a stimulant, whereas fentanyl is a depressant that produces relaxation and sedative effects. As a result, the body is put in a state of conflicting reactions that can be fatal.
Should Drug Dealers Be Held Accountable for Fentanyl Deaths?
You may be shocked to learn that in 2020, more than 56,000 overdose deaths were attributed to synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. It’s difficult to imagine that this large number of individuals intentionally used fentanyl in excess. If not, why are so many fatal fentanyl overdoses occurring?
A fine line exists between intentional or accidental overdose. Generally, an intentional overdose happens when someone takes too much of the drug on purpose. But, how does a medical professional make that diagnosis? It’s likely the person did not know they had consumed fentanyl and was overpowered by the drug.
The most common cause of overdose is unknowingly buying drugs that are laced with fentanyl. Surprisingly, many dealers aren’t aware that the heroin or meth they sell contains fentanyl. If they do know fentanyl is in there, they don’t know how much.
The DEA issued this statement in April 2022 about the increase in fatal overdoses involving fentanyl:
“Fentanyl is killing Americans at an unprecedented rate,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “Already this year, numerous mass-overdose events have resulted in dozens of overdoses and deaths. Drug traffickers are driving addiction, and increasing their profits, by mixing fentanyl with other illicit drugs. Tragically, many overdose victims have no idea they are ingesting deadly fentanyl until it’s too late.”
To help reduce fentanyl overdoses, many states are holding drug dealers accountable for the deaths. Many state officials consider fentanyl overdoses as attempted murder and deliberate poisoning:
“We must utilize all available resources to combat the opioid and fentanyl epidemic that continues to plague this great nation,” said Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma, President of Major County Sheriffs of America. “In addition to those resources, we must shift how we respond to an overdose, no longer treating them as accidental deaths, but instead as a homicide crime scene. These individuals are victims of a greater problem, and we are committed to putting an end to these deaths.”
If you use cocaine, or cocaine laced with fentanyl, your best option for avoiding a fatal overdose is to get professional addiction treatment. The dangers of combining cocaine and fentanyl are too significant to ignore.
Design for Change Recovery Will Help You Overcome Fentanyl and Cocaine Addiction
Struggling with an addiction to one or more drugs can be scary and intimidating. But, millions of people have beat their addictions with professional treatment. You can, too. Start today by contacting Design for Change Recovery in Lancaster, CA. We offer an evidence-based, fully-accredited treatment program that can be customized for your specific needs.
- cdc.gov/ – The Facts About Fentanyl
- cdc.gov/ – Illegal Use of Fentanyl
- nida.nih.gov/ – Overdose Death Rates
- dea.gov/ – DEA Warns of Increase in Mass-Overdose Events Involving Deadly Fentanyl
- abcnews.go.com/video – Poisoned: America’s Fentanyl Crisis