NBC News: Death toll from tainted cocaine rising across the country
NBC reporter, Laura Ungar, interviewed employees from CAT about the increase in cocaine deaths due to tainted product.
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Here's an excerpt from the article where Katherine Engel, director of nursing at CAT, and police chief Tom Synan, CAT board member, share their perspectives:
Most of the time, fentanyl is the stealth culprit, posing a particular danger to longtime cocaine users who may be older, sicker and unaccustomed to the effects of opioids.
“Your whole system is kind of thrown a curveball,” said Katherine Engel, director of nursing at the Center for Addiction Treatment in Cincinnati. ”You’re an opiate virgin, so to speak.”
Tom Synan, police chief in Newtown, just outside Cincinnati, said the risk extends to cocaine users who also have used older opioids such as heroin because fentanyl is 50 times more potent.
“In the ’70s, a ‘speedball’ was a mix of cocaine and heroin. I call this ‘speedball 2.0.’ Fentanyl has made it much worse,” he said. “It’s made every drug people are addicted to into a crisis.”
In May, in Cincinnati’s county of Hamilton, cocaine overdoses killed six people over 10 days.