This lethal cocktail can make it harder to save someone experiencing an overdose with an overdose-reversing drug like naloxone.
“The stronger the drugs, the harder it is to revive a person,” explained study co-author Alexander Lundberg, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Feinberg. “The polysubstance use complicates an already dire situation.”
Post said, “It appears that those who have died from opioid overdoses had been playing pharmacist and trying to manage their own dosing. This is a bigger problem because you have people misusing cocaine and methamphetamines along with an opioid, so you have to treat two things at once, and the fentanyl is horribly volatile.”
The study authors said solutions might include methadone centers, which offer medication-assisted anti-addiction treatments. These are more common in urban areas. Rural areas have no medication-assisted treatment options, Post said, adding that what works in large cities is likely not as useful for rural areas.
“Nobody wants to be a drug addict. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking Percocet because you broke your back while mining or if you’re a high schooler who died because they got into grandma’s medicine cabinet. We need to look at opioid addiction and overdose prevention immediately,” Post said.
“The only path forward is to increase awareness to prevent opioid use disorders and to provide medication-assisted treatment that is culturally appropriate and non-stigmatizing in rural communities,” she added.
The findings were published online July 28 in JAMA Network Open .
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more on the opioid epidemic.
SOURCE: Northwestern Medicine, news release, July 28, 2022