Along with rates of cocaine seizures, rates of overdose due to use of the drug have spiked as well. In fact, the Medical Examiner Commission in Florida reports that overdose deaths caused by cocaine use are higher than they have been since 2007. In fact, they report that in 2012, 1,318 people in Florida lost their lives to cocaine overdose, and three years later, in 2015, that number had jumped to 1,834.
In South Florida, across Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Broward Counties, there were 614 deaths due to cocaine overdose in 2015, a 29 percent rise from 2014. In fact, the only drug that caused more deaths in Florida in the first half of 2016 was fentanyl, a synthetic opiate that is often used to bump up the potency of heroin or used to create counterfeit pills.
In some areas, fentanyl-laced cocaine is causing significant problems, causing deaths and triggering medical emergency.
Jim Hall is an epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University. He says: “I think all the attention we have given to opioids might give the impression that cocaine is a safer drug. Substance abuse in this stage of the 21st century is more hazardous, more dangerous, more addictive and more deadly than at any other point in our lifetimes.”
Taking Notice, Taking a Stand
Due to the use of fentanyl in cocaine and heroin sold on the street, the fact is that there is virtually no such thing as “recreational use” of these substances. Every single use is life-threatening. It is not an issue to take lightly, and for people who are living with an active addiction characterized by physical dependence and cravings, it is a crisis that requires immediate medical attention.
The first step is to recognize the issue, and thanks to intensive research and extensive media coverage, the drug abuse epidemic is no secret. The problem with cocaine use and abuse is just as deadly as the opioid epidemic that is raging across the country.
For people who have family members who like to mix cocaine with alcohol when they go out or who use the drug on the sly to help them “get through” the day, it is not something to ignore. Rather, it is a red flag that there is a serious issue that should be immediately addressed.
This can be done by:
- Discussing the need for quitting all use of addictive substances like cocaine and heroin
- If it is impossible for your loved one to quit alone due to addiction, discussing the option of professional medical intervention
- Exploring options in addiction treatment services that are appropriate for your loved one
- Staging an addiction intervention if your loved one is unable or unwilling to make the commitment to enroll in a treatment program
Taking the Next Step
If your loved one is living with a substance use problem, it is time to stop worrying and start acting. Not only will your family member need treatment, but you will also need support in your own recovery. Addiction can be traumatic for all involved, and it is essential to begin treatment as soon as possible to begin the healing process.
Will you take your first step toward recovery today?