R.I. officials warn of soaring presence of fentanyl-laced cocaine

May 2, 2017 by

The synthetic drug, increasingly linked with heroin overdose deaths, is especially hazardous for recreational drug users.

By Lynn Arditi –

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The powerful synthetic opioid increasingly linked with heroin overdose deaths has made its way into the supply of a drug often associated with occasional, recreational users: cocaine.

Rhode Island behavioral health officials Monday that they are warning treatment providers about reports that large amounts of fentanyl-laced cocaine have been seized by law enforcement officials during recent drug arrests.

Fentanyl is especially dangerous for recreational users, experts say, because their tolerance for opioids is lower than that of regular opioid users. A synthetic opioid, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Nearly 60 percent of all accidental overdose deaths in 2016 were linked to fentanyl, according to state health department data.

“There’s no such thing as clean cocaine or heroin anymore,″ said Linda Mahoney, an administrator at the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. “That’s the message that should be sent to social users as well as anyone (for whom) that’s their drug of choice.″

Mahoney urged treatment providers to begin offering the opioid-antidote naloxone, known by its brand name Narcan, to all clients with a history of cocaine use.

Fentanyl is the second most common drug detected in drug samples seized by law enforcement so far in 2017, Mahoney said in an e-mail to providers obtained by The Providence Journal. Of the fentanyl-tainted samples, 48 were detected in heroin and 37 in cocaine.

Based on those samples, the finding suggests that fentanyl is 77 percent as likely to be found in cocaine as in heroin.

Source: R.I. officials warn of soaring presence of fentanyl-laced cocaine

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