As America goes through a major opioid crisis, many are focused on reducing addictions to prescription painkillers. But it turns out there's another drug people need to worry about as well: cocaine.
Buzzfeed conducted a major investigation in America's opioid crisis and found that another drug is experiencing a surge as well. According the site, cocaine deaths rose an astonishing 52 percent between 2015 and 2016. While researchers aren't 100 percent sure why overdoses are rising, one of the major factors is fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that's usually reserved for only medical cases where people are in extreme pain. But it's also become one of the most popular opioids on the streets. Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. So when statistics show heroin and cocaine overdose deaths are increasing, it's at least partly due to mixing with fentanyl. For instance, CDC reported less than 200 cases of cocaine mixed with fentanyl overdoses in 2012. But that number rose to 4,100 in 2016 and accounted for around 40 percent of all cocaine overdoses.
The issue appears to also be worse on the East Coast, and particularly the Northeast. Many cocaine overdoses come from mixtures with fentanyl, but in the western part of the country, there are very few mixing-related deaths. The problem is the CDC, which keeps track of these statistics, can't determine whether a cocaine overdose death occurred due to an intentional mixing of fentanyl and cocaine or from dealers combining the two with the buyer unaware.
So it's not only a opioid crisis anymore, but a cocaine and heroin crisis as well.