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New York City Cocaine Overdoses Increase Fourth Straight Year

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The New York City Department of Health reported that the number of cocaine-related overdose deaths in New York City has risen for a fourth straight year.

NEW YORK (Sputnik) — The number of cocaine-related overdose deaths in New York City has risen for a fourth straight year, according to a new report released by the New York City Department of Health.

"The rate of cocaine-involved overdoses increased by 25 percent, from 4.4 to 5.5 per 100,000 between 2010 and 2013,” the report stated.

Among individual New York City boroughs, Staten Island saw the greatest increase with the rate of cocaine-involved overdoses rising by 341 percent since 2000, from 1.7 to 7.5 per 100,000 people.

Bronx residents had the highest number of overdose deaths in 2013 with 7.7 per 100,000 people.

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The increase in cocaine overdoses in New York City contradicts a national trend portraying the decrease of cocaine use nationwide. From 2007 to 2012, the number of cocaine users across the United States aged 12 or older dropped from 2.1 million to 1.7 million, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The contradiction has led Dr. Joseph Palamer, an assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine, to believe the issue may be that the quality of the drug has decreased.

“For all we know, cocaine use is also decreasing in Staten Island,” Palamer said. “Cocaine containing more dangerous adulterants may be on the rise.”

Palmer noted another reason for the increase in cocaine overdoses may be the increase in heroin and other opioid-related overdoses. From 2010 to 2013, the rate of overdose deaths from opioids increased by 41 percent, according to the Department of Health.

“Even though cocaine and opiates have completely different effects, it may be that some individuals who have a problem with one drug are replacing one drug with the other, or perhaps combining them,” Palamar said.

Cocaine is the second most common drug involved in overdose deaths and emergency room visits, second only to opioids, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

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