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Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Could Be ‘Next Wave’ Of Opioid Crisis, Some Warn

Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan, right, and inspector Gina Bassett review toxicology reports on cocaine evidence, looking for the possibility of fentanyl. "Law enforcement tells us that the next wave of the addiction crisis is fentanyl-laced cocaine," Ryan says. Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR

Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan, right, and inspector Gina Bassett review toxicology reports on cocaine evidence, looking for the possibility of fentanyl. “Law enforcement tells us that the next wave of the addiction crisis is fentanyl-laced cocaine,” Ryan says. Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR

A pipe was the only sign of drug use near Chris Bennett’s body, in November. But it looked like the 32-year-old Taunton native had stopped breathing and died of an opioid overdose. Bennett’s mother Liisa couldn’t understand what happened. Then she saw the toxicology report.

“I’m convinced he was smoking cocaine that was laced,” she says. “That’s what he had in his system was cocaine and fentanyl.”

Liisa Bennett was shocked. Chris had developed an addiction to pain pills and then heroin in his late teens but had not used opioids for at least 10 years, as far as his mom knew. She had warned her son that if he ever used opioids again he’d be in greater danger of an overdose because fentanyl, which is many times more powerful than heroin, was in much of the supply.

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