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What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States?

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimates that in 2008 there were 1.9 million current (past-month) cocaine users, of which approximately 359,000 were current crack users. Adults aged 18 to 25 years have a higher rate of current cocaine use than any other age group, with 1.5 percent of young adults reporting past month cocaine use. Overall, men report higher rates of current cocaine use than women.

The 2009 Monitoring the Future survey, which annually surveys teen attitudes and drug use, reports a significant decline in the 30-day prevalence of powder cocaine use among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders from its peak use in the late 1990s, as well as significant declines in past-month use among 10th- and 12th-graders from 2008-2009.

Trends in 30-Day Prevalence of Cocaine Abuse Among Eighth, Tenth, and Twelth Graders, 1998-2009 line graph. Source: University of Michigan, 2009 Monitoring the Future Survey.

Repeated cocaine use can produce addiction and other adverse health consequences. In 2008, according to the NSDUH, nearly 1.4 million Americans met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for dependence or abuse of cocaine (in any form) in the past 12 months. Further, data from the 2008 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report showed that cocaine was involved in 482,188 of the nearly 2 million visits to emergency departments for drug misuse or abuse. This translates to almost one in four drug misuse or abuse emergency department visits (24 percent) that involved cocaine.

This page was last updated September 2010

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