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Study Links Police Drug Busts, Fatal Overdose Spikes

A new study found a strong association between spikes in overdose deaths and police drug busts, reports Stat. The research, published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, said in a week following a major opioid bust in Indianapolis, fatal overdoses in the same neighborhood doubled. Calls to 911 and naloxone usage also increased. "Folks across the country have told us that they see overdoses spike after a major bust or after a lab closure or some kind of interdiction,” said Jennifer Carroll, a medical anthropologist and one of the paper’s authors.


The authors said when police officers arrest drug dealers, their regular customers are put in a difficult spot. Facing agonizing withdrawal symptoms and with addiction treatment difficult to access, many simply find other dealers. Those new dealers may sell drugs that contain higher levels of fentanyl or new adulterants altogether, like xylazine or lidocaine. For people accustomed to a consistent supply from a consistent dealer, using newly sourced drugs can present a particular danger. The findings were consistent across time and geography.


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