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While Opioid Crisis Persists, Meth And Cocaine Deaths Increase

National Crime Agency
One ton of cocaine seized as part of an operation involving the National Crime Agency and Irish, French and Venezuelan authorities in 2014.

Opioid-related deaths have been a primary concern among state officials for years, but the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio has spotted a recent rise in the number of deaths related to Methamphetamine and cocaine. 

According to the Ohio Department of Health, last year saw 1,109 fatal overdoses from cocaine, nearly double the rate in 2014. The number of deaths from meth has also increased, climbing from 59 to 233 in the last three years. 

U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman says fentanyl and heroin remain a primary concern, having killed 3,495 people last year. But while attentions are focused on opiates, Glassman worries meth and cocaine abuse could worsen if it's not addressed.

There's no clear explanation as to what's caused the spike, but Glassman points to a steady rise in the rate of prescription stimulants, like Adderall and Ritalin, as a possible source. 

"If we are not careful, they could lead to diversion and abuse and lead to people taking stimulant drugs from the streets," Glassman says.

In recent years, the practice of prescribing opioid painkillers has been reexamined to prevent abuse and illegal sales. Similarly, Glassman is hoping doctors will use caution when prescribing stimulants.

"I just want us to have a similar conversation about prescription stimulants, so Adderall and Ritalin, that sort of thing," Glassman says. "These are also Schedule Two substances."

Schedule Two drugs are defined by the DEA as "drugs with a high potential for abuse," and also include fentanyl and OxyContin.