Exactly how bad has substance abuse gotten in the city of New York? So bad that local officials are issuing “cocaine safety tips” to discourage users from overdosing. Truth be told, this story actually ties back to an earlier report we covered. In it, we shared details about how local drug dealers are now lacing their narcotics batches with fentanyl; making them much more addictive and much more deadly. Well that trend has appeared to have skyrocketed recently, with NYC reporting fatal OD’s every seven hours in the city.
CBS affiliate WLNY covered the story and the great lengths that New York’s Department of Health is taking to protect its citizens. Fentanyl, as we explained before, is a synthetic opioid that is said to be a major contributor to the crisis. The strains that street dealers are using are reportedly 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.
The DoH is concerned enough to look past cocaine habits, letting “casual users” know all about the impending dangers. Their efforts are so aggressive that representatives have now partnered with local bars and nightclubs, passing small handouts with safety tips.
Below is an example of the mini flyer, which has also made its way to social media.
“We’re going into bars and nightclubs because we want to reach people who may only use cocaine occasionally. We want them to know that fentanyl is in our cocaine supply, and they are at risk of an opioid overdose,” NYC Department of Health rep Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a press release. “If you use cocaine, make sure someone is with you who can call 911 or administer naloxone in case you have an opioid overdose. We are grateful for the support of our local bars and nightclubs to get this message out.”
There are even new Twitter and Facebook hashtags that have been developed to help spread the word. The message that is getting pushed is #HealingNYC.
— nycHealthy (@nycHealthy) May 27, 2018
Clearly this is an urgent matter, but the method of awareness is not without its critics. Some have accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of encouraging cocaine use with this campaign. But he was quick to respond, justifying all methods that could potentially save New Yorkers’ lives.
“When the health department tries to figure out a public health campaign, they are very mindful of not wanting to have unintended consequences,” he explained. “But, let’s be blunt, tragically there’s a lot of people using cocaine and thinking it’s safe… Any way to tell people it’s not safe anymore and could be laced with an extraordinarily lethal drug — that’s our obligation to get that information out.”