Although prescription drugs caused more overall deaths in Florida than cocaine in 2016, the fact that cocaine was the individual drug cited most often as the cause of death in drug-related fatalities offers further evidence of cocaine's resurgence in Florida and elsewhere.
The state's 2016 Medical Examiners Commission Drug Report, released last month, stated that cocaine was present at death in 2,882 cases, up 57% from 2015. Cocaine was listed as the cause of death in 1,769 of these cases, up 83% from 2015.
By comparison, opioids were present in 5,725 deaths in Florida in 2016, a 35% increase from the previous year, according to the report. Prescription drugs generally were found more often than illicit drugs, although the emergence of fentanyl (which has both pharmaceutical and illicit uses) complicates the picture somewhat.
The report stated that deaths caused by fentanyl increased by 97% in Florida in 2016, while deaths caused by heroin increased by 30%. Also, there were 327 deaths caused by methamphetamine in 2016, a number more than double the total in 2015.