Cocaine is deadlier than ever thanks to drug dealers who stir up a lethal cocktail by lacing the popular stimulant with an opioid more powerful than morphine. 

Cocaine becomes a silent killer when it is mixed with fentanyl, according to a report in Philly Voice. The synthetic opioid is similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent. Prescribed to patients suffering from severe pain, fentanyl is accompanied by a plethora of side effects including hallucinations and breathing difficulties.

About 2 million Americans regularly partook of the stimulant in 2018, an increase of 1.4 million from seven years ago, a recent federal survey revealed. About one in 100 African Americans used cocaine regularly last year, a 40% higher rate than among whites.

Though overshadowed by the larger opioid epidemic that leads to tens of thousands of deaths annually, the vast majority of them white, cocaine-related overdoses have started ringing alarm bells as more and more Americans start using the drug.

Cocaine overdoses were responsible for the deaths of nearly 14,000 Americans in 2017, and that number is expected to drastically increase as cocaine’s popularity resurges. 

One of the packages thought to contain cocaine at the Plage du Gressier beach in Le Porge, southwestern France, on November 11, 2019. One of the packages thought to contain cocaine at the Plage du Gressier beach in Le Porge, southwestern France, on November 11, 2019. Photo: AFP / -

The spike in cocaine use is partly explained by a surplus in the market. A 2018 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration concluded that record cocaine production in Columbia has broadened the market and kept prices down.

To compound the problem, local dealers spike cocaine with fentanyl to hook users to an intense high. 

Despite the boost in national cocaine-related casualties, some users come to crave the lethal mixture for its intense highs. However, that brief feeling of elation can come with severe consequences. Using today’s cocaine is a game of Russian roulette that may lead to feelings of euphoria or death.