Cocaine Is Back, Killing More Than Ever
The signs: Increased business at rehab centers. Those Ski-related personal ads. A big spike in death rates.
The trend began to reveal itself about five years ago — in centrifuges and under microscopes — at the University of Florida’s Forensic Toxicology Laboratory. Each year, the lab assists seven Florida medical examiners’ offices with about 3,000 cases, helping to identify toxic substances in bodies as medical examiners perform autopsies.
Increased business at rehab centers ... ‘ski’-related personal ads ... a big spike in death rates ... cocaine’s back. [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
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The new users, it seems, prefer to snort it rather than smoke it. “Crack users probably are in the minority of what we’re seeing. We are seeing a lot of patients with powdered cocaine use,” says Jerry Rudd, business development and community relations director for the Advanced Recovery Center in Delray Beach.
Consistent with a preference for powdered cocaine, the new users — and victims — tend to be college students and young, affluent professionals. Death certificates of cocaine users don’t disclose income levels. But another UF researcher, Mark Gold, chief of the division of addiction medicine at UF’s McKnight Brain Institute, found that the geographic regions marked by the biggest increases in cocaine-related death rates include college towns like Gainesville and Tallahassee and wealthy enclaves like Sarasota, Naples and Melbourne.