Cocaine Deaths Triple in Just Five Years

Photo by Tashi-Delek/                        

Just when it appears that one area of America’s drug addiction epidemic is well understood, a particular drug problem that had gone more or less undetected suddenly makes headlines and presents itself as yet another crisis that must be addressed as quickly as possible.

An example of this is a recent CDC analysis, and several news reports that followed brought to light skyrocketing cocaine overdose deaths. What is the story there? And most importantly, what can be done to curb overdoses and save lives?

A New Threat

The opioid epidemic grabbed headlines for years. And that’s somewhat understandable. Opioid addiction has been possibly the fastest growing and most lethal drug problem of our time.

But the problem is that when one drug crisis grabs and holds so much attention from the media and public health sector, other drug addiction issues do not receive attention. While the opioid addiction epidemic has taken center stage, cocaine-related overdose deaths have almost tripled in five years, a shocking increase for a drug that was not usually associated with exceptionally high death rates among users.

Without a doubt, historically speaking, people have died from cocaine overdoses. But the rate of death as compared to the rate of use has not been anywhere near the rate of death and the rate of use from other substances (heroin, alcohol, and prescription painkillers come to mind).

Let’s take a look at the numbers. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cocaine-induced deaths increased from 1.6 deaths per 100,000 population in 2013 to 4.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2018. That reflects an average of 27 percent increase every year.

Another point to consider is that drug overdose deaths involving cocaine and opiates have increased at a much higher rate than overdose deaths involving just cocaine by itself. That would suggest much of the spike in cocaine deaths is due to cocaine supplies that have opiate additives, often without the knowledge of the addicts who end up consuming those drugs.

... If the person using the drug is unaware that the cocaine they are consuming is laced with fentanyl and lacks a tolerance for opioids, they are more likely to experience an adverse reaction or an overdose.
Photo by LeoPatrizi/                          

U.S. News reported on this quoting Pat Aussem, associate vice president at the Partnership to End Addiction. She commented on the fact that increasing batches of cocaine are being mixed with fentanyl, an extremely potent and very easily lethal opiate drug. ”When mixing cocaine and opioids intentionally, the desired result is to experience the high of cocaine while easing its after-effects with the depressant qualities of an opioid. If the person using the drug is unaware that the cocaine they are consuming is laced with fentanyl and lacks a tolerance for opioids, they are more likely to experience an adverse reaction or an overdose.”

Cocaine deaths continue to increase as life-threatening opioid drugs continue to be added to batches of cocaine, with or without addicts knowing that is what they are getting. Remember, drug dealers are rarely honest with addicts about what’s in the drugs they’re selling. Thus this new crisis will continue to rob family members of their loved ones until dedicated efforts are taken to curb the problem. Now more than ever, people have to realize that cocaine is a lethal drug and that a loved one’s cocaine use could be fatal.

Helping a Loved One Who is Addicted to Cocaine

Do you have a family member or loved one who is addicted to cocaine? An addiction to a mind-altering substance is a dangerous, life-threatening condition. And not only is it dangerous for the person who is addicted, but it is also quite dangerous for those around them. If you know someone struggling with such a crisis, help them get off drugs as soon as possible. You are not only saving their life in doing so, but you’re also reducing the risk they pose to others around them.

But where does one turn to for help?

Residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers offer the safest, most effective approach to getting people off of drugs for good.

Helping cocaine addict
Photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz/

Many people do not grant cocaine addiction the severity it deserves, and that negligence is dangerous. If you have a family member or loved one who is hooked on cocaine, please remember that cocaine-related deaths are skyrocketing. Cocaine addiction was serious beforehand, and now it is even more concerning since current cocaine trafficked into and around the United States is increasingly mixed with other substances, often without the addict, even knowing what type of drug they are consuming. That is partially why cocaine deaths have increased by more than 300 percent in just the last few years alone.

Don’t let your loved one become just another fatality statistic. Call Narconon today and take a significant first step towards getting your family member or friend the help that they so desperately need.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.