Opioids mixed with cocaine or psychostimulants are driving more overdose deaths, CDC data show

This statement from the article –In 2021, opioids were present in about 79% of overdose deaths —  Is similar to someone stating that the majority of people with a BMI >24.9 drinks sodas and is considered overweight or obese. There are a lot of various soft drinks/sodas… some containing sugar, some are sugar free and some are high in caffeine.  Just like it has been reported else where that ~ 80% of all drug OD/poisoning involved illegal Fentanyl from China & Mexican cartels.  Is the words/phrases used in this article intentionally misleading or just shows how poorly whoever crafted this article understands who/what is really behind all of these deaths?

Opioids mixed with cocaine or psychostimulants are driving more overdose deaths, CDC data show


Drug overdose deaths involving cocaine and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine have been rising quickly in the United States in recent years, and a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that opioids are also involved in most of those deaths.

In 2021, opioids were present in about 79% of overdose deaths involving cocaine and about 66% of those involving psychostimulants, according to CDC data. And these multi-drug combinations have become increasingly common.

Overdose deaths involving both cocaine and opioids have become more than seven times more frequent over the past decade, growing from less than 1 death for every 100,000 people in 2011 to nearly 6 in 2021. And those involving both psychostimulants and opioids became 22 times more common, jumping from 0.3 deaths for every 100,000 people in 2011 to nearly 7 in 2021.

Deaths from cocaine or psychostimulants that did not also involve opioids also increased, but they grew at significantly slower rates.

“The epidemic is showing us that it is quite dynamic and it can change quite rapidly,” said Katherine Keyes, an associate professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, who was not involved in the new report but whose research focuses on psychiatric and substance use epidemiology. “This data is a stark reminder of how much more we need to be doing to combat these very preventable deaths.”

Although the new CDC report does not specify the type of opioids involved, experts say that these trends highlight the dangers of illicit fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

“Cocaine combined with fentanyl is much more toxic and lethal. Methamphetamine can kill more than cocaine by itself, but having said that, it’s much more dangerous when you combine it with fentanyl,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who also was not involved in the new research. “This accounts for why we’re seeing firsthand a high rise in mortality from these two drugs.”

But fentanyl isn’t the only factor, and addressing the deadly overdose epidemic in the US will require multiple strategic approaches, experts say.

“The dramatic rise in cocaine- and methamphetamine-involved deaths over the past decade emphasizes that this is a polysubstance overdose crisis, not an opioid crisis, and that we need a range of proven interventions to save lives,” said Dr. Sarah Wakeman, an addiction medicine physician at Mass General Brigham, who was not involved in the new report.

Both intentional and unintentional combinations of these drugs are probably contributing to rising overdose death rates, she and others say.

The use of opioids along with stimulants has long been common among drug users: for decades with cocaine and more recently with psychostimulants such as methamphetamine.

“Research has shown that people who are using both stimulants and opioids are at even higher risk of health-related complications, and treatment models addressing both are more limited,” Wakeman said.

But fentanyl has also contaminated the illicit drug market, raising the risk of unintentional exposure.

Dealers “are diluting that drugs that are more expensive to manufacture and adding fentanyl,” Volkow said. “They put a tiny little bit of fentanyl, which is less expensive but so potent that it will generate a powerful substance.”

This is particularly true for cocaine, which is more expensive to manufacture and transport, helping explain why the new CDC report found the combination of cocaine and opioids to be so common, she said. And the amount of cocaine coming into the US has increased significantly.

“The more drugs that get into the country, the greater the number of people that are going to be exposed to the practice of mixing these drugs with fentanyl in the illicit market,” Volkow said.

About 110,000 people in the US died from a drug overdose in the past year, according to another data set from the CDC that tracks overdose deaths through February. About a quarter of those deaths involved cocaine, and a third involved psychostimulants such as methamphetamine. More than two-thirds involved opioids.


2 Responses

  1. Well we are truly up that proverbial stream of water with out any means of motivation in which to navigate upstream!
    I believe it was just yesterday the news announced that a young lady died of drinking water too fast!! Too much oxygen will kill you!
    With all these means of dying from natural life sustaining
    substances, What is the CDC and DEA to do? Probably not use common sense, because they all lack any semblance of that, whatever it may be. Common sence ? Have you ever heard of it? They will not waste the energy to muster up a mosquito fart for whatever good that might do.
    How in the heck are they going to control these life sustaining substances? Beats me, but they are surely smart enough to try! NOT !!!! If they can’t figure out how to sort the deaths by fentanyl and other destructive substances from regular opioid deaths, they won’t be able to fix our problem with drugs. I had 20 years of fairly good pain treatment, but
    since the CDC and DEA have gotten involved, I have suffered terribly the last 5 or 6 years.
    Maybe when the agencies start starving us from oxygen and water somebody might check their credentials and ability to do their jobs. One would think that when the DEA started robbing the Doctors and letting the drugs get deeper and deeper someone might put a stop to their thievery.

  2. GRRRRR! How hard can it be for the journalist to include the more precise definition of the overdose opioid as ILLICIT OPIOID? This journalist is either stupid or purposely perpetuating a falsehood. They definitely have not done their homework, though they do mention illicit fentanyl, but not in combination with opioid. Thanks for the article, Steve!

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