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Cocaine Back in a Big Way, DEA Warns, with Rising Overdose Deaths

cocaine packages

WASHINGTON -- Cocaine use in the United States has "rebounded" buoyed by a boost in supply, and the increasing prevalence of potent synthetic opioids such as fentanyl mixed into the product is "accelerating cocaine involved overdose deaths," the Drug Enforcement Administration said in the 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment released today.

Both use and availability of the drug continued a sharp climb between 2016 and 2017 and "increased availability levels and concurrent lowered domestic prices will likely propel this trend through the near-term" thanks to "record levels of coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia." Ninety-three percent of cocaine tested by authorities last year turned out to be of Colombian origin, and "the overall trend of lower prices but higher purity suggests demand has not fully caught up to supply — resulting in a cheaper, more pure product than five years ago."

There were 10,375 cocaine-involved deaths in the country in 2016, a 52.9 percent increase from the previous year. A further increase in cocaine overdose deaths is expected this year, the report said, as use of both the powder and crack forms of cocaine continues to grow. The most cocaine deaths have been in Washington, D.C., Rhode Island, Ohio, Massachusetts, and West Virginia.