Cocaine-Related Deaths on Rise in County

Cocaine-Related Deaths on Rise in County
Posted by FoM on May 11, 2000 at 21:40:28 PT
So is Drug Treatment 
Source: Seattle Times
Cocaine-related deaths increased for the second straight year in King County, and use of the drug is on the rise again, experts said yesterday. Health authorities said that cocaine was involved in 76 deaths in 1999 and that patients in treatment for cocaine addiction increased by about 13 percent among patients whose care is publicly funded. 
An annual "drug-abuse trends" report by Seattle-King County Public Health, published yesterday, said deaths from heroin declined to 111 after a record 143 in 1998. However, heroin was mixed with cocaine in more than two-thirds of the fatalities attributed to cocaine. And multiple drugs, including cocaine and alcohol, were involved in more than 80 percent of the heroin-attributed deaths. "It's very rare that we encounter someone who really uses only one drug," said Kris Nyrop, one of the report authors and director of Street Outreach Services, which helps drug users and the homeless in downtown Seattle. Increased federal funding allowed about 250 additional patients to get heroin-addiction treatment last year, and health officials said that may have helped decrease heroin-overdose deaths. But health-department director Alonzo Plough said the deaths are still "far too many." The report did not analyze why cocaine abuse increased after declining for several years. Deaths increased from 66 in 1997 to 69 in 1998, and to 76 last year. Nyrop said the upswing in cocaine use could be due to a combination of reasons. Some heroin users afraid of hard-core addiction may have switched to the drug. Others may be more frequently combining cocaine, a stimulant, with heroin, a depressant, to change the type of high. Nyrop said deaths from cocaine may have increased because of the drug's varied purity. Unsuspecting users may take a strong dose of a pure drug and die from heart or respiratory failure. The King County report also included these findings: Methamphetamine use appears to be stable at a level well below heroin and cocaine use. But deaths increased to 11, compared with six deaths for 1997 and 1998 combined. Most of the deaths involved other drugs as well. The report said the problem is greater in several counties outside King County. Pierce County, for example, had the highest number of patients treated for use of methamphetamines and, from 1995 through 1998, the highest number of meth labs seized. Statistics also suggested a bigger problem in Clark and Spokane counties. Marijuana remains the most widely used illegal drug in King County and Washington state. The report indicates the level of use is mostly unchanged. Fifteen percent to 20 percent of patients in treatment listed marijuana as their main drug of abuse. Health officials said recent King County efforts to help residents with drug addictions include a new mobile program for methadone treatment, increased drug-free public housing for people in drug treatment and the provision of acupuncture as a means to decrease cravings. By Warren King, Seattle Times Medical Reporter Warren King's phone message number is 206-464-2247Published: Thursday, May 11, 2000Copyright  2000 The Seattle Times Company CannabisNews Articles On Cocaine & Drug Treatment:
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