In just one year, between 2017 and 2018, Canadian law enforcement bodies seized a scandalous almost 3,000 tons of cocaine. That is substantially more than heroin, fentanyl and other opioids as well as more than the number of firearms, weapons, alcohol or jewellery seized in the same period of time. The drug was easily in the lead and it should raise a lot of concerns.
To add even more to the burden, the opioid epidemic has been found to have ramifications among non-opioid users whose drug of choice is cocaine. Laced cocaine, typically cut with the powerful opioid fentanyl which is known to be 100 times more potent than morphine, has been widening the issue and putting lives at risk. With a considerable number of Canadians believing ‘a little bit of cocaine won’t harm anyone’, they proceed to drugs without realizing that they may not contain what they paid for. Therefore, the risk of overdosing is much higher since the smallest amount of fentanyl can be deadly.
In the U.S. for example, over 2,000 deaths are by people who thought they were doing cocaine but weren’t actually, and that number has skyrocketed to 420% in the past three years. The situation is not much different in Canada. Almost 5% of cocaine available in the country contains fentanyl. Probably the most obvious sign that the drug has been contaminated is if after use, the individual begins feeling sleepy or dozes off, which is highly unusual in the case of cocaine alone.
Within this context, talks about addiction treatment need to focus on proactively addressing a co-occurring addiction. While many people can casually take cocaine without getting addicted, that is a variable situation that changes from one individual to another. However, it’s not the case with fentanyl. Due to its chemical structure, the drug has quick and potent effects on the brain and body, causing addiction almost instantly. Here, it stops being the case of ‘I will just do it at a party’ and it very much becomes a part of a user’s everyday life as the body starts craving it more and more.
Fentanyl-laced cocaine is a deadly combination for anyone that uses it, but people who are already addicted to cocaine are particularly exposed to the risk. It is speculated that dealers are cutting cocaine because it’s cheaper for them and it also makes the drug more addictive urging abusers to go back for more day after day.
While the situation is gruesome, there is always hope for recovery. Detox should always be carried out under medical supervision and the person seeking help has the best chances to take back control of their life if they are completely honest with the staff providing help. If a person has been dealing with a long-term cocaine addiction, chances are they are also addicted to fentanyl. This is an important aspect to take into consideration as the chances of relapsing will be much higher.