National Addiction Expert Warns There's a Bigger Threat Looming Than Opioids

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., Dec. 3, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Much of the nation has become fixated on the opioid epidemic that kills 115 Americans each day, and for good reason. Countless families are grappling with the devastating effects of loved ones struggling with opioid addiction. Accountability is rightly being demanded in the form of lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and prescribing doctors operating "pill mills." Unfortunately, while the country is focused on opioids, another, potentially larger and more dangerous threat is surfacing, according to Deni Carise, Ph.D.

(PRNewsfoto/Recovery Centers of America)

"Data show drastic increases in the number of people addicted to and dying from overdoses involving cocaine and methamphetamine use, with a direct correlation to both drugs being increasingly available on our streets due to rising international production and trafficking," says Dr. Carise, chief scientific officer for Recovery Centers of America and adjunct clinical assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "While the attention being paid to the opioid epidemic is definitely worthy and I commend all efforts at awareness, prevention and treatment, we must be careful not to ignore signs of other looming drug threats that will likely have similar catastrophic consequences."

The facts:

  • Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that overdose deaths have more than tripled for cocaine and quadrupled for meth since 2012.
  • A UN report shows Colombian coca production more than tripled between 2012 and 2016; over the same period, prices fell 23 percent while purity increased nearly 20 percent. Lower prices and more purity helped contribute to an 81 percent increase in the number of first-time cocaine users in the U.S. since 2013.
  • The U.S. High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, run from the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, recently stated that cocaine made up 83 percent of drug seizures and meth 14 percent in 2017. Meth seizures more than doubled within three years in southwestern states.

"We're seeing rising numbers of cocaine and meth first-time users, and increased use among young adults in this country, which is very alarming," says Dr. Carise. "Both drugs are increasingly accessible and affordable alternatives to opioids."

Marked increases in overdose deaths involving combination drug use are driving this new problem, says Dr. Carise, with opioid/meth rates doubling since 2012 and opioid/cocaine more than tripling.

"Widespread seizures of contaminated cocaine indicate that dealers are commonly mixing in the synthetic opioid fentanyl. In some cases, this is done purposefully to increase the drug's potency or profitability. In other cases, fentanyl is inadvertently mixed into cocaine by dealers using the same blending equipment to cut various types of drugs. Regardless, the contamination often occurs without the end users' awareness, which can lead to overdose incidents and even death."

Dr. Carise says, "The bottom line is that attention has been too narrowly focused on opioids. Multiple drug trafficking is rampant and current drug prevention strategies are ineffective, hampering our nation's ability to respond to emerging trends. We must open our eyes to the fact that there are other drug threats and support tactics for reducing supply, decreasing demand, and increasing treatment options. Unlike with opioids or alcohol, there are currently no effective medications to control cravings or block the effects of cocaine or methamphetamines. Addressing all potential drug threats should be our nation's number one priority given the high stakes."

Recovery Centers of America (1-800-RECOVERY) provides comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment. RCA is in-network with most insurance providers, making care affordable and reducing out-of-pocket expenses for those seeking help with substance abuse.


Kristen Hayes

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SOURCE Recovery Centers of America


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