Tag Archives: opioid

Cocaine-Opioid Cocktails Have Been Killing Since 2010

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People have been dying from opioid and cocaine cocktails regularly since 2010, but there hasn’t been much reporting on it. That’s partially because the focus is on the fact that these deaths were from opioids. But calling these deaths “opioid overdoses” is problematic because, in some cases, the drug users were never aware that they were using an opioid.

According to the Washington Examiner, more than 10,100 people died from mixing the drugs in 2017. 7,241 of those deaths showed both cocaine and fentanyl in their systems. Fentanyl is a potent opioid about 50 to 200 times stronger than morphine. It’s also the deadliest opioid in the US, with the majority of deaths in 2017.

Deaths caused by opioids and cocaine have risen nearly 76 percent since 2012.

Recently, opioid test strips have emerged across the United States as a part of harm-reduction efforts. The strips, which cost $1 each and have been given out with needle exchange programs and at other places drug users frequent, can detect even a minute amount of fentanyl. Cocaine and heroin users must mix some the drug with water to create a liquid form.

The test strips are not perfect and sometimes may give a false positive. Officials worry that the strips will give drug users a sense of false security, but harm reduction proponents say that combined with other methods of harm reduction, such as t6he overdose-reversal drug Naloxone, it will save lives. People will use their drug of choice, either way, harm reduction advocates say.

Harm reduction advocates hope that these tools, combined, will give a person enough tools to stay alive so that when they want to quit getting high, they can. After all, you can’t get a dead person into addiction treatment.

It’s not clear why drug dealers are adding fentanyl to the supply of other illicit street drugs. Many of the drugs sold in the US come from chemists in China or other international supply. Sometimes the drugs are pressed in the US, but sometimes the drugs are bought already formulated.

Getting the drugs off the streets seems a monumental task. Testing for the drugs, however, will be a bit more straightforward now that the test strips have begun to circulate.

Single-Step Naloxone Most Effective in Reversing Overdoses

Naloxone Narcan

Addiction professionals and first responders cope with a lot of variables when responding to an overdose, but nothing has changed the outcomes of emergency calls like Naloxone (also known as Narcan), an opioid antagonist drug that has the power to reverse overdoses. There are several versions of Naloxone delivery available. However, research has revealed that the single-step nasal inhaler seems to be most effective at reversing overdoses, according to new research led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University at New York.

In the past few years, expanded access to naloxone has saved thousands of lives by reversing fatal overdoses in people with opioid use disorder. While many people who overdose are not ready for help yet, others identify the moment their overdose occurred as a pivotal point in their life that helped them choose to get into recovery. Law enforcement and other first responders carry the drug on them all the time, especially in places like Ohio where overdoses take place in parking lots and other public spaces.

There is more than one way to administer Naloxone. Injections can be difficult for the untrained person to deliver, but there is often help available for people who choose to carry the drug. Sometimes injections are required multiple times for serious overdoses, and the skill of the person injecting the drug may come into play when it comes to reversing the drug.

William Eggleston, the clinical assistant professor at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Binghamton University, wanted to know if everyday people can successfully administer naloxone after basic video training. His research found that for ordinary people who aren’t first responders, the single-step nasal spray was used most successfully with minimal problems.

Eggleston conducted a study to estimate and compare the rate of successful administration and the time to successful administration by community members for single-step nasal spray, multi-step atomized nasal spray, and intramuscular simulated naloxone.

For the study, and over the course of several days, 138 adults with no prior naloxone training were asked to watch a two-minute video teaching them how to administer the drug. For each type of administration, they were asked to the adminster the reversal drug on a dummy.

After the video training, participants were able to administer the single-step nasal spray naloxone with a higher rate of success than the other types. This information is important for community naloxone programs across the United States.

“With training, nasal sprays, in general, had a higher degree of success than the shot,” Eggleston said. “Even if it seemed to us it was a no-brainer that we should be using nasal sprays, we had no data before, so now we have some to support that.”

Many people don’t realize it, but Naloxone has also been used to help people who have overdosed on other drugs such as synthetic marijuana and benzodiazepines.

The cost of the single-step Narcan spray is about $140, making it more cost prohibitive than the injection, which is about $40.

Image courtesy and copyright Adapt Pharma.