May 14, 2023 – Nearly 2 percent of the U.S. population reported cocaine use in 2020, and the highly addictive substance was involved in nearly one in five overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

In Virginia, the number of cocaine-related overdoses has been increasing since 2013, with 968 fatal overdoses in 2022, a 20 percent increase over 2021, according to preliminary data from the Virginia Department of Health. Of those, four in five included fentanyl — prescription, illicit, or analog — a driving force behind the fatalities.

Researchers at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC are working to better understand cocaine use disorder and help reverse the national trend. 

“Stimulants are coming back. Cocaine use and addiction has been rising for more than a decade with no robust treatment,” said Warren Bickel, professor with the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and director of the Addiction Recovery Research Center. “We need some new ideas.” 


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