August 31, 2018 – Cocaine Increase


Anchor lead: While the nation is focused on opioids, other drugs are also causing overdoses, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Heroin is leading the headlines these days when it comes to drug overdoses, especially now that so much of it also contains fentanyl. The latest data from the CDC indicates that 72,000 people died last year of drug overdoses, and fentanyl gets much of the credit. Eric Strain, a drug abuse expert at Johns Hopkins, says even so, our focus on opioids may be misplaced.

Strain: In the latest overdose reports, it’s also the case that cocaine overdoses are creeping up as well. We are very focused right now on an opiate use disorder problem and we’re wrong in that approach. We need to be thinking of this as a substance use disorder problem because otherwise we’re playing whack a mole where we’re addressing opiates but in the meantime we’re going to see cocaine grow, and then in five years we’re going to be worried about our cocaine problem, and we’ll be whacking that as something else increases.   :30

Strain advocates for widespread public education to help people avoid such choices in the first place, and to understand the dangers of illicit drug use, as well as comprehensive treatment approaches. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.