Deaths Due to Stimulants are Rising: As if Opioids Aren't Bad Enough

The other night I was pouring over the very latest CDC dataset related to addiction (yes, I’m that geeky). The findings re-enforce what I’m seeing in practice: overdose rates involving cocaine and other stimulants are rising. From 2016 to 2017, death rates involving cocaine and psychostimulants increased across all demographics. In other words, it doesn’t matter where you look in the country: the trend was the same for all age groups, ethnic groups, inner-city, suburbs, and the state doesn’t even matter.

I also noticed that Connecticut is unfortunately among the states with the highest increase in deaths related to ‘psychostimulants with abuse potential’ (e.g. cocaine, meth, amphetamines) from 2016-2017 (#4 highest increase nationally).

We thought things couldn’t get much worse after we saw a 52% increase in cocaine-related deaths between 2015–2016. Now the 2017 data shows more than a 34% increase over the higher rate from 2016. That’s right: the huge surge in overdoses related to cocaine and stimulants that we saw a few years back has increased by another THIRD.

Now that I have your attention, we need to work on this. The CDC calls for “a rapid, multifaceted, and broad approach that includes more timely and comprehensive surveillance efforts to inform tailored and effective prevention and response strategies” and I couldn’t agree more. The only things that I would add are the importance of global, community level education on how to deal with stressors/emotions and pain (the two main issues which drive most addictions in my opinion) without medications, and we can’t only focus on opioids to prevent overdoses.

Write your representatives, chip in where you can. If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine, methamphetamine, or stimulant abuse (including Adderall, Ritalin etc), reach out for help. Addiction is globally going from bad to worse.

(The dataset was the “Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Cocaine and Psychostimulants with Abuse Potential — United States, 2003–2017” for those interested).