HealthDay News — Drug overdose deaths involving cocaine and psychostimulants accounted for 19.8 and 14.7 percent, respectively, of all 2017 drug overdose deaths, and the death rates are continuing to increase, according to research published in the May 3 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Mbabazi Kariisa, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed 2016 to 2017 changes in age-adjusted death rates involving cocaine and psychostimulants and trends in cocaine- and psychostimulant-involved death rates from 2003 to 2017.

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The researchers found that 19.8 and 14.7 percent of all 2017 drug overdose deaths involved cocaine and psychostimulants, respectively. From 2016 to 2017, death rates increased for both drug categories across demographic characteristics, urbanization levels, Census regions, and states. Opioids were involved in 72.7 and 50.4 percent of cocaine- and psychostimulant-involved overdoses, respectively, in 2017. Increases in cocaine-involved overdose deaths from 2012 to 2017 were mainly driven by synthetic opioids, while increases in psychostimulant-involved deaths occurred largely independent of opioids; in recent years, there was increased co-involvement of synthetic opioids. Based on provisional data from 2018, there has been a continued increase in deaths involving cocaine and psychostimulants.

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“Continued collaborations among public health, public safety, and community partners are critical to understanding the local illicit drug supply and reducing risk as well as linking persons to medication-assisted treatment and risk-reduction services,” the authors write.

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