CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Officials say an increase in overdose deaths involving cocaine in South Carolina may be due the drug being mixed with the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
The Post and Courier reported Sunday that officials say most drug users may not be aware their cocaine has been cut with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a painkiller considered to be up to 100 times stronger than morphine and is often mixed with drugs to increase their potency.
Drug Enforcement Administration agent Jason Sandoval says the agency’s Charleston office started seeing the mixture last year. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control says cocaine overdoses killed 235 people last year, an increase of 167 percent since 2014. Deaths involving fentanyl and cocaine increased roughly 1,160 percent during that same time, with 88 deaths last year.