According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Drug Enforcement Administration, cocaine use and deaths are at the highest they have been since 2007. A possible reason for this could be that many drug users turned to cocaine believing it was a “safer” option compared to other opioids such as heroin, which dealers were often cutting with fentanyl, resulting in a spike in overdoses.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes fentanyl as a synthetic opioid and is considered to be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Drug dealers make a profit when they mix heroin with fentanyl because the new substance contains less actual heroin, but the lethal combination is much more potent. Due to the fear of heroin overdose, people have begun taking more of an interest in cocaine. Unfortunately, drug dealers took note and began cutting cocaine with fentanyl as well.
Drug dealers are more concerned with making a profit than they are about the safety of their buyers. If a buyer dies from an overdose of their product, the demand for their product increases because users believe it must be better quality and stronger than others. Of course the drug dealers do not disclose the fact that their product is cut with fentanyl, which leads to an abundance of overdoses and deaths.
It is becoming more common for cocaine to be mixed with fentanyl, but there have also been cases of cocaine being mixed with animal worming products. These deadly combinations have resulted in an alarming increase of cocaine-related deaths. In 1999 there were 3,822 deaths compared to an astounding 13,942 deaths in 2017. Hopefully, your child will never consider taking these drugs, but it is more important than ever to tell your child that they can never be 100% sure of what is in a drug
How Cocaine Can Affect Your Child
Despite cocaine’s popularity, it is considered extremely dangerous and has a multitude of negative side effects. Cocaine can be taken in many different forms, but all of its forms can cause serious bodily harm, including death: snorting may cause loss of smell, frequent nosebleeds and problems swallowing; smoking it may lead to asthma, respiratory distress and higher risk of infection; swallowing it may lead to severe bowel decay because of decreased blood flow. Cocaine also stops the body from recycling the Dopamine it produces, causing a build-up in the brain which leads to feelings of extreme happiness and bursts of energy. The brain will usually adapt to the excess amount of Dopamine which leads users to take it more frequently and in larger doses, making an overdose more likely.
Because cocaine is odorless and can be taken very discreetly, it is important to identify the signs that someone may be using. If you notice your child has a drastic change in their mood going from down or content to extremely excited, confident, and high energy paired with a lack of appetite and irregular sleep schedule, cocaine use may be a possibility. Other telltale signs include dilated pupils, sensitivity to light and frequent nosebleeds. The effects of cocaine usually only last about an hour or less, so users may leave regularly to continue using to maintain their high.
It is equally as important to address the behaviors that follow cocaine binges, or signs of continuous use. When someone stops using they may show signs of depression, agitation, increase in cravings, apathy and long periods of sleep. By taking note of your child’s behavior, you may be able to intervene before it is too late.