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

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), cocaine use has remained relatively stable since 2009. In 2014, there were an estimated 1.5 million current (past-month) cocaine users aged 12 or older (0.6 percent of the population). Adults aged 18 to 25 years have a higher rate of current cocaine use than any other age group, with 1.4 percent of young adults reporting past-month cocaine use.4

Line graph showing trends in 30-day prevalence of cocaine use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, generally decreasing from 2002 to 2015. Usage rates fell from 2.3% to 1.1% among 12th graders 1.6% to 0.8% percent among 10th graders, and 1.1% to 0.5 % among 8th graders.Source: University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future national results on drug use: 1975-2015: overview, key findings on adolescent drug use, 2016.

The 2015 Monitoring the Future survey, which annually surveys teen attitudes and drug use, reports a significant decline in 30-day prevalence of powder cocaine use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from peak use in the late 1990s. In 2014, 1.1 percent of 12th graders and only 0.8 percent of 10th and half a percent of 8th graders reported using cocaine in the past month.5

Repeated cocaine use can produce addiction and other adverse health consequences. In 2014, according to the NSDUH, about 913,000 Americans met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for dependence or abuse of cocaine (in any form) during the past 12 months. Further, data from the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report showed that cocaine was involved in 505,224 of the nearly 1.3 million visits to emergency departments for drug misuse or abuse. This translates to over one in three drug misuse or abuse-related emergency department visits (40 percent) that involved cocaine.6

Bar chart showing overdose deaths from cocaine in the U.S. from 2001 to 2014 with trend lines showing the number of deaths by males and females. Death rates increased from 3,833 in 2001 to a peak of 7,448 in 2006 then fell to 4,183 in 2010 before rising again to 5,415 in 2014. Three times as many men die from cocaine overdose than women.

This page was last updated May 2016

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