Cocaine-Fentanyl Combination Hits Philly Hard

Philly Fentanyl

Philly Increasingly Faces Deadly Mix of Cocaine-Fentanyl

Philadelphia has been averaging more than 100 overdose deaths a month, and now a deadly mix of cocaine and fentanyl is leading to more casualties.

As reported by The Inquirer, cheap, potent fentanyl — which can be 10 times stronger than heroin — has long been found in heroin, often with fatal consequences to people who sometimes don’t realize they are using fentanyl. Both of those opioid drugs, like prescription painkillers, are depressants that slow down messages between the brain and the body. Cocaine, however, is a stimulant that speeds up the system.

Exactly why fentanyl is turning up in cocaine overdose cases is unclear, though law enforcement and public health experts have come up with several theories. There’s no doubt, though, that fentanyl has created a new unpredictability in the drug supply that’s proving increasingly fatal.

“As we see this expansion of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs into the drug supply, the universe of people who might be at risk is much broader,” said Christopher Jones, the director of the National Mental Health and Substance Abuse Police Laboratory at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “That’s why you see the really significant spikes in overdose deaths since 2015.”

Whether or not drug users realize they’re ingesting that combination of drugs — generally a powder that is snorted or dissolved into a solution and then injected — is unclear. Speedballs, the colloquial term for a heroin-cocaine combination, have long been a popular drug cocktail, used together for what is said to be a unique euphoria. But a report issued to agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in January indicates that at least some people in addiction may be using — and dying from — the deadlier cocaine-fentanyl combination.

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