US: Death toll from tainted cocaine rising across the country - - PressFrom - US
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US Death toll from tainted cocaine rising across the country

12:10  17 november  2019
12:10  17 november  2019 Source:   nbcnews.com

Japan seizes record $73 million in cocaine at port

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Deaths are rising most precipitously among African Americans, who are more likely to use cocaine than whites and fatally overdosed at an 80% higher rate. More than 30 states have seen cocaine death rates rise since 2010, with Ohio leading the way. Overdoses from crack and powder cocaine

Drug overdose deaths involving cocaine rose from 3,822 in 1999 to 13,942 in 2017. The bars are overlaid by lines showing the number of deaths involving Drug overdose deaths involving any opioid―prescription opioids (including methadone), synthetic opioids, and heroin― rose from 18,515

CINCINNATI — A pain pill prescription for nerve damage revived Gwendolyn Barton's long-dormant addiction last year, awakening fears she would slip back into smoking crack cocaine.

a man sitting in front of a curtain: Gwendolyn Barton© Meg Vogel Gwendolyn Barton

She'd done that drug and others for about 20 years before getting sober in 2008. But things were different back then. This time, the 62-year-old knew she needed to seek treatment before it was too late.

"If I used today," she said, "I'd be dead."

The powerful opioid fentanyl is often mixed into cocaine, turning the stimulant into a much bigger killer than the drug of the past. Cocaine-related overdoses took the lives of nearly 14,000 Americans in 2017, up 34 percent in just a year, the latest federal figures show. And they're expected to soar even higher as cocaine's popularity resurges.

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Rise in cocaine deaths . “Sajid Javid needs to get on top of this. A minimum first step required is that the Home Office needs to establish the cause of It is not clear whether the increased death toll is being driven by the use of powdered or crack cocaine because both appear the same in postmortem

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Barton, who is African American, is wise to be wary. Deaths are rising most precipitously among African Americans, who are more likely to use cocaine than whites and fatally overdosed at an 80% higher rate.

But the scourge is festering quietly, overshadowed by the larger opioid epidemic that kills tens of thousands each year, the vast majority of them white.

More than 30 states have seen cocaine death rates rise since 2010, with Ohio leading the way. Overdoses from crack and powder cocaine killed 14 of every 100,000 Ohioans of all races in 2017 — seven times more than in 2010, according to the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

Colin Planalp, senior research fellow with the center, said deaths have risen steeply in rural and urban areas across America since 2000, and the increase is directly related to the national opioid crisis.

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Most of the time, fentanyl is the stealth culprit, posing a particular danger to longtime cocaine users who may be older, sicker and unaccustomed to the effects of opioids.

"Your whole system is kind of thrown a curveball," said Katherine Engel, director of nursing at the Center for Addiction Treatment in Cincinnati. "You're an opiate virgin, so to speak."

Tom Synan, police chief in Newtown, just outside Cincinnati, said the risk extends to cocaine users who also have used older opioids such as heroin because fentanyl is 50 times more potent.

"In the '70s, a 'speedball' was a mix of cocaine and heroin. I call this 'speedball 2.0.' Fentanyl has made it much worse," he said. "It's made every drug people are addicted to into a crisis."

In May, in Cincinnati's county of Hamilton, cocaine overdoses killed six people over 10 days.

Increased supply, new dangers added

The crisis is growing as more people use cocaine.

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A heroin crisis gripping communities across the country deepened in New York last year, with more people in the city dying in overdoses from the drug than in any year since 2003. In all, 420 people fatally overdosed on heroin in 2013 out of a total of 782 drug overdoses

The deaths occurred in the capital Jakarta and neighboring province of West Java and at least a dozen men had been detained on suspicion of making and distributing the drink Police raided street stalls and homes across several cities towns and found large steel and rubber tanks used to mix the drinks.

A federal survey showed about 2 million Americans used the stimulant regularly in 2018, up from 1.4 million in 2011. One in 100 African Americans used the drug regularly last year, a rate 40 percent higher than among whites.

Supply helps drive use. A 2018 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says record cocaine production in Colombia, the primary source for cocaine seized in the United States, has widened the cocaine market and pushed down prices. The agency expects the trend to continue.

Synan said the supply has ebbed and flowed over the years and cocaine never went away. What's different now, he said, is the intentional and unintentional addition of fentanyl.

Sometimes, law enforcement experts said, dealers spike cocaine with the inexpensive synthetic opioid to hook people. Other times, it gets mixed in through sloppy handling or packaging somewhere along the way.

"The reason they're putting it in is it's cheap," said Thomas Fallon, commander of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force. "Also, they're not chemists. They don't always know what they're doing."

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Eighty-two Indonesians have died and many more have been hospitalised after drinking tainted bootleg liquor last week, police said on Wednesday. The deaths occurred in the capital Jakarta and neighbouring province of West Java and at least a dozen men had been detained on suspicion of

The deaths occurred in the capital Jakarta and neighboring province of West Java and at least a dozen men had been detained on suspicion of making and distributing the drink Police raided street stalls and homes across several cities towns and found large steel and rubber tanks used to mix the drinks.

Still, longtime cocaine users often trust their dealers. They're less likely than heroin or pill users to carry the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, treatment professionals and police said, because they don't think of themselves as opioid users and don't believe they'll need it.

While some users overdose and die from cocaine mixed with fentanyl, others come to crave the potent combination for its high.

"Instead of being a deterrent, it's an incentive for some," said Evonne Stephenson, a nurse practitioner at the Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program of Cincinnati. "Everyone thinks they're invincible."

Actually, drug use makes them more vulnerable to serious health problems or death, especially as they age. Indeed, the steepest rise in cocaine-related overdose deaths nationwide was among people 45 to 54 years old.

William Stoops, a University of Kentucky professor who studies drug and alcohol addiction, said longtime cocaine use causes cardiovascular problems, which raises the risk of dying from an overdose even before fentanyl is added to the mix.

Barton likens doing cocaine these days to a game of Russian roulette.

"One person might get super high," she said. "The next one may take it and die."

Challenges abound

Efforts to reduce these deaths face several obstacles.

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The landfill is the country ’s largest and home to perhaps hundreds of people who collected recyclables that were trucked in from neighbourhoods around the city of about 4 million people. The government tried last year to close the dump and shift it to a new location, but opposition from residents at the new

Long-simmering resentment among African Americans around the criminalization of cocaine addiction in the 1980s and '90s fuels an ongoing mistrust of law enforcement and public health efforts.

Back then, possessing 5 grams of crack, which many associated with low-income African Americans, brought the same prison sentence as possessing 500 grams of powder cocaine, which many associated with middle-class or affluent whites.

The way people think about and tackle drug use has been "influenced by who we think uses them," said Jeffrey Coots, who directs John Jay College of Criminal Justice's "From Punishment to Public Health" initiative in New York.

And though African Americans use opioids, too, today the drugs are typically associated with white users.

"There's a thought that no one cared until a bunch of white people started dying," said Stephenson, the Cincinnati nurse practitioner. "That's so tragic."

Synan said he's heard this sentiment. People ask: "'Why do you care now if you didn't care back then?'" he said. "So you have to overcome that. Whether it's real or perceived, it doesn't matter, because it's still an issue."

Synan said he understands the concerns and acknowledged that society sees opioids more through a medical lens. But he said that's partly because of an evolving understanding of addiction and the sheer numbers of overdose deaths in recent years, which require urgent action.

To be sure, overdoses involving opioids kill more Americans: 47,600 in 2017, including 5,513 African Americans. Overdoses involving cocaine killed 3,554 African Americans — although categories overlap because deaths may involve more than one drug.

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The deaths occurred in the capital Jakarta and neighboring province of West Java and at least a dozen men had Police raided street stalls and homes across several cities towns and found large steel and rubber tanks used to mix the drinks. Deaths from such consumption are reported frequently, but the

It also raised the melamine scandal's death toll from four to six infants, underlining the impact of the country 's worst safety scare in years. In a statement released overnight, the ministry said 294,000 babies across the country had suffered from urinary problems after consuming milk powder laced

Another challenge: There's less in the treatment arsenal for cocaine addiction. While medications such as Suboxone and methadone treat people hooked on opioids, there are no federally approved medications to treat cocaine problems, even though researchers were testing promising medications nearly 15 years ago.

Public health officials say they're focusing more on cocaine addiction in light of today's deadly overdose threat, and trying to address the larger issue of addiction in general.

"What we'd certainly like to see more of is community-level interventions that go at the drivers of drug use in the first place — seeing it as the symptom of a problem," Coots said.

In Ohio, the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition — which plans to change its name to reflect a focus on all addictions — has reached out to African Americans through black churches, public forums and community leaders. It tries to spread messages about prevention, the dangers of today's cocaine, where to get help and the need for every drug user to carry naloxone.

The group also has a "quick response team" including police, emergency workers and addiction specialists who follow up with overdose victims, often going to their homes to try to get them into treatment.

That treatment needs to be "culturally competent," Stephenson said, meaning providers respect diversity and the cultural factors that can affect health. These are key goals of the Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program, where she works.

Barton said treatment she gets through this program is helping keep her sober and productive. She works as a cook in nearby Covington, Ky., and also tries to help friends still struggling on the streets.

Lately, she's been especially worried about one friend, a longtime cocaine user who has overdosed repeatedly and landed in the hospital.

She pleads with him to be careful, delivering a dire warning:

"One day, you're just not gonna come back."

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Flagler County sheriff's deputies recover 15 kilos of soggy cocaine on beach .
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