Cocaine laced with fentanyl is reportedly wreaking havoc on the New York City clubbing scene and has already caused two people to die of an overdose as young revelers returned to the nightlife forcibly closed during the pandemic.
Social media users have taken to Instagram and Twitter to raise the alarm about cocaine stocks contaminated with fentanyl, a highly addictive and potent opioid.
So far, the New York Police Department has not released any data on how widespread the problem is in the five boroughs.
However, online reports indicate that at least two people have suffered fatal overdoses from the tainted drug supply found in the Bushwick and Williamsburg boroughs of Brooklyn, as well as 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, WNYC/Gothamist.
That amounts to almost one in ten bags of cocaine sold on the street.
Five years ago, only two percent of cocaine seized by the NYPD had traces of the dangerous opioid.
New York City revelers are being warned to stay away from fentanyl-laced cocaine after at least two people recently died of drug overdoses as young revelers returned to the nightclubs that were forced to close during the pandemic. The image above is a file photo with illegal drugs
“My friends passed away last night, several people, please stop partying if you can, I can’t handle this. Eat mushrooms, smoke weed, let people know [there is] very bad coke going around Bushwick, Williamsburg,” read a text posted on Instagram
Fentanyl-laced cocaine has been reported in the Bushwick and Williamsburg boroughs of Brooklyn, as well as the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens
The image above shows another message posted on social media to warn partygoers in Brooklyn about fentanyl-laced cocaine
Instagram account hilovenewyork posted this message urging followers to “leave the cocaine for a while” because “lethal amounts of fentanyl are currently in circulating drugs”
“My friends passed away last night, several people, please stop partying if you can, I can’t handle this. Eat mushrooms, smoke weed, let people know [there is] very bad coke going around Bushwick, Williamsburg,” read a text message on Instagram.
The owner of the Instagram account goes by the handle hilovenewyork. DailyMail.com has reached out to the account owner for comment.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department referred DailyMail.com to the New York City Department of Health.
DailyMail.com has also filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the latest NYPD data on opioid-related fatal overdoses.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 83,000 people lost their lives from drug-related overdoses in the 12-month period ending July 2020, a significant increase from 2019, when more than 70,000 people died from overdoses.
The preliminary data also indicated that there was a 26 percent increase in the number of cocaine-related overdose deaths, with fentanyl being the most likely cause of these fatalities.
According to the latest city data, 1,446 people died from 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 leading cause of most fatal overdoses.
Ryan Thoresen Carson, executive director of the NO OD NY campaign, told DailyMail.com that as New Yorkers come out of lockdown-imposed isolation, many will return to nightclubs and take social drugs without suspecting they may contain fentanyl.
He says more efforts should be made to raise awareness among non-addicted partygoers who normally use cocaine when going to clubs.
Addicts who use heroin have test strips that can detect fentanyl in their stash, but those who use cocaine when they go out are not trained in the same way, he says.
“Many cocaine users don’t think there is fentanyl in cocaine,” he says.
‘People [on social media] communicate that this is a concern, but a cocaine user does not think about this in the same way as a heroin user.’
Carson says the nationwide spike in cocaine overdose deaths suggests fentanyl contamination is increasing across the United States.
“People do overdose on cocaine, but not in the numbers we see here,” he says.
“It would suggest there’s something in the cocaine that wasn’t there before.”
Unlike heroin users who have developed a tolerance to fentanyl, those who ingest cocaine do not.
According to the latest city data, 1,446 people died from drug overdoses in the first nine months of last year — more than those who died in all of 2019.
More than 75 percent of deaths in 2020 were related to fentanyl, according to the city’s health department.
In the last quarter of 2020, more than 80 percent of heroin tested by NYPD labs showed trace amounts of fentanyl.
Laboratory 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 help cancer patients manage their pain.
Given its extreme potency, it has become popular among recreational drug users.
Overdose deaths linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl rose 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 produces the same high as the drug, with biologically identical effects. But it may be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to US officials.
In America, fentanyl is classified as a schedule II drug – indicating that it has a strong potential to be abused and can cause psychological and physical dependence.