Cocaine, long thought of as the drug of choice in South Florida, is waning in popularity, the Miami Herald reports.
Experts say they are seeing a drop in the number of people seeking treatment for cocaine addiction, or dying from the drug. As the purity of cocaine decreased, drug users had to pay more and got less, the article notes. A sagging economy is making cheaper narcotics, which are easier to obtain, more attractive.
“It’s not disappearing, but it’s definitely declining,” James N. Hall, Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Substance Abuse at Nova Southeastern University, told the newspaper. “People are getting half of what they used to get — and this is occurring in the middle of the economic downturn. Cocaine, the most expensive drug on a per-dose basis, is costing more.”
Dr. Hall found 281 people suffered cocaine-related deaths in Miami-Dade County in 2007. In 2009, that number had dropped to 155. In 2010, the number of cocaine-related deaths rose to 198, but experts say the increase was due to more people mixing cocaine with prescription drugs such as oxycodone.
While cocaine is on the decline, prescription drug abuse is on the rise in Florida. A recent study of drug overdose deaths in Florida between 2003 and 2009 found that prescription medications were involved in 76 percent of cases. The death rate for prescription drugs increased 84.2 percent between 2003 and 2009. The greatest increase was seen in the death rate from oxycodone, followed by alprazolam (Xanax) and methadone. By 2009, the number of deaths involving prescription drugs was four times the number involving illicit drugs.