Overdose deaths tied to opioids are down slightly in Massachusetts and across the nation as a whole. But deaths involving stimulants, cocaine and methamphetamine, are way up.
The Centers for Disease Control says fatal cocaine related overdoses increased 27% a year, on average, between 2012 and 2018. Deaths linked to psychostimulants including meth rose 30% during the same period, a nearly five-fold increase. Many drugs users inject both opioids and stimulants.
Public health leaders say these numbers confirm an urgent need for medicine to complement counseling and peer support for drug users addicted to stimulants. Unlike with opioids, there are no approved treatment medications and no equivalent of naloxone to reverse a toxic meth high and avoid a heart attack, stroke or life-threatening rise in body temperature.