Cocaine laced with fentanyl is reportedly wreaking havoc on the New York City club scene and has already caused two people to die of overdoses as young revelers return to the nightlife venues that were forced shut during the pandemic.
Social media users have taken to Instagram and Twitter to sound the alarm about cocaine supplies that have been tainted with fentanyl, a highly addictive and powerful opioid.
So far, the New York Police Department is not releasing data on just how widespread the problem is in the five boroughs.
However, reports online indicate that at least two people have suffered fatal overdoses from the tainted drug supply found in the Bushwick and Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn, as well as in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens.
The most recent statistics released by the NYPD in April indicate that eight percent of the city’s cocaine supply is laced with fentanyl, according to WNYC/Gothamist.
That amounts to almost one out of every 10 bags of cocaine sold on the street.
Five years ago, just two percent of the cocaine seized by the NYPD had traces of the dangerous opioid.
New York City partygoers are being warned to stay away from fentanyl-laced cocaine after at least two people died of overdoses recently as young revelers return to the nightclubs that were forced shut during the pandemic. The image above is a file photo showing illicit drugs
‘My friends died last night, multiple people, please please stop partying if you can, I can’t handle this. Eat mushrooms, smoke weed, please let people know [there is] very bad coke going around Bushwick, Williamsburg,’ read one text message that was posted on Instagram
Fentanyl-laced cocaine has been reported in the Bushwick and Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn as well as in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens
The image above shows another message posted to social media warning partygoers in Brooklyn of fentanyl-laced cocaine
The Instagram account hilovenewyork posted this message urging followers to ‘lay off the cocaine for a while’ as ‘lethal fentanyl amounts in circulating drugs right now’
‘My friends died last night, multiple people, please please stop partying if you can, I can’t handle this. Eat mushrooms, smoke weed, please let people know [there is] very bad coke going around Bushwick, Williamsburg,’ read one text message that was posted on Instagram.
The Instagram account owner goes by the handle hilovenewyork. DailyMail.com has reached out to the account owner for comment.
A New York Police Department spokesperson referred DailyMail.com to the New York City Department of Health.
DailyMail.com has also filed a request under the Freedom of Information Law seeking the latest NYPD data on opioid-linked fatal overdoses.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 83,000 people lost their lives to drug-related overdoses in the 12-month period ending in July 2020, a significant increase from 2019, when more than 70,000 people died of overdoses.
The preliminary data also indicated there was a 26 percent increase in the number of cocaine-related overdose deaths, with fentanyl being the most likely driver of these fatalities.
According to the latest city data, 1,446 people died of drug overdoses in the first nine months of last year – more than those who died in all of 2019. Fentanyl is believed to be a major driver of most fatal overdoses
Ryan Thoresen Carson, executive director of NO OD NY campaign, told DailyMail.com that as New Yorkers emerge from lockdown-imposed isolation, many will return to nightclubs and use drugs socially without suspecting that they could contain fentanyl.
He says there needs to be greater efforts made to raise awareness among non-addicted partiers who normally take cocaine when heading out to clubs.
Addicts who use heroin will have test strips that could detect any fentanyl in their stash, but those who take cocaine when going out aren’t educated in the same way, he says.
‘A lot of cocaine users don’t think there might be fentanyl in cocaine,’ he says.
‘People [on social media] are communicating that this is a concern but a cocaine user doesn’t think about this the way a heroin user does.’
Carson says that the nationwide spike in cocaine-linked overdose deaths indicates that fentanyl contamination is on the rise everywhere in the United States.
‘People do overdose from cocaine but not in the types of numbers that we’re seeing here,’ he says.
‘It would suggest there’s something in the cocaine that wasn’t there previously.’
Unlike heroin users who may have built up a tolerance for fentanyl, those who ingest cocaine have not.
According to the latest city data, 1,446 people died of drug overdoses in the first nine months of last year – more than those who died in all of 2019.
More than 75 percent of the 2020 deaths involved fentanyl, according to the city Health Department.
In the last quarter of 2020, more than 80 percent of heroin tested by NYPD labs showed traces of fentanyl.
Lab tests also found fentanyl in cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, and opioid analgesics.
What is fentanyl and why is it so dangerous?
Fentanyl was originally developed in Belgium in the 1950s to aid cancer patients with their pain management.
Given its extreme potency it has become popular amongst recreational drug users.
Overdose deaths linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl jumped from nearly 10,000 in 2015 to nearly 20,000 in 2016 – surpassing common opioid painkillers and heroin for the first time.
And drug overdoses killed more than 72,000 people in the US in 2017 – a record driven by fentanyl.
It is often added to heroin because it creates the same high as the drug, with the effects biologically identical. But it can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to officials in the US.
In America, fentanyl is classified as a schedule II drug – indicating it has a strong potential to be abused and can create psychological and physical dependence.