Cocaine Addiction In the United States

Cocaine Addiction in the USIllicit drug use in our country has been on the rise, and cocaine is a major player in this growing crisis. In 2014, an estimated 27 million Americans (10.2 percent of the U.S. population) had used an illicit drug in the past 30 days – about 1.5 million using cocaine.Of the approximately 21.5 million Americans considered to have a substance use disorder in the last 12 months and 7.1 million having a dependence on “illicit” drugs specifically, the Office of National Drug Control Policy pegs the current number of cocaine addicts at close to 3.6 million.Based on illicit drug abuse prevalence, cocaine is third behind the “nonmedical use” of marijuana and painkillers.1

Cocaine is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and very limited (rare) medical application.3

Since repeated use of cocaine can produce many adverse health issues, this powerful and highly addictive stimulant continues to be a national concern.

Our Youth and Elderly Leading the Charge…in the Wrong Direction

Slightly more than 2.3 million Americans age 12 to 17 (9.4 percent) and more than one in five young adults age 18 to 25 (22 percent) – or 7.7 million – were current users of illicit drugs in 2014.The 18 to 25 group has a higher rate of current cocaine use than any other age group, with 1.4 percent of young adults reporting past-month cocaine use.2

Of the estimated 2.8 million new users of illicit drugs in the U.S. in 2013 – that’s a shocking 8,000 new users per day – more than half of these individuals were found to be under 18 years of age.

Due in part to the large aging baby-boomer generation, drug use is found to be increasing among people in their fifties and sixties as well. Baby boomers’ rate of illicit drug use has historically been higher than those of previous generations, dating back to the 1970s.4

What Toll Is Cocaine (Among Other Drugs) Taking on Our Country?

Abuse of cocaine and other drugs is a major drain on our national economy, exacting more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care. And what about the millions of loved ones, friends, coworkers and vehicle passengers who are paying a high price for their tainted connection with those having a substance use disorder? Altogether, the price we are paying for drug abuse is staggering.5

Cocaine was involved in more than 500,000 of the 1.3 million visits to emergency rooms for drug misuse or abuse in 2011. That translates to coke being involved in more than one in three drug abuse ER visits.2

Combining cocaine with other drugs carries extra risks and can be extremely dangerous. The more drugs a person takes (or is affected by) at a time, the more chance there is of something going wrong.6

How Does Cocaine Use in the U.S. Compare to that in Other Countries?

The proportion of Americans who have used cocaine at some time during their lives is four times higher than the proportion of people in 16 other nations surveyed by the World Health Organization. Many experts credit the high U.S. rates in part to the illicit drug epidemics of the 1970s and 1980s.

The World Health Organization also found that:

  • The period of high risk for initiating use of cocaine and other addictive substances – previously late adolescence through the early 20s – now extends into the late 20s.
  • Men are more likely than women to use cocaine and other illicit drugs, but this gender gap appears to be narrowing among our youth. The availability of illicit drugs to girls is increasing.
  • The higher the income, the more likely a person is to use illicit substances, like cocaine.7

Mental Illnesses Often Accompany Use of Coke and Other Drugs

Of the 20.2 million adults in 2014 having a substance use disorder in the last 12 months, 7.9 million (39.1 percent) were found to also have a mental illness during that period. In contrast, among adults without a past-year substance use disorder, just 16.2 percent had a mental illness in that period.1

Among adults who experienced substance use disorders and any mental illness during the past year in 2014, rates were highest among adults of age 26 to 49 (42.7%). For adults with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders over the last 12 months, rates were highest among those 18 to 25 years of age (35.3%). It is important to note here that not only are various mental conditions more likely to begin and occur at different stages in life, but the category of drugs consumed can play a very significant part in the type of mental illness that develops.8

Treatment Approaches (and Quality) Can Vary Significantly

Reducing the number and severity of substance use disorders involving the illegal consumption of cocaine and other addictive drugs is critical to Americans’ mental and physical health, safety and quality of life.1

While drug dependencies and addictions– as well as mental health conditions – are preventable and treatable, there continues to be a huge “treatment gap” in our country. In 2013, an estimated 22.7 million Americans (8.6 percent) needed treatment for a problem related to drugs or alcohol, but only about 2.5 million people (less than one percent) received treatment at a drug rehab facility.4

Treatment for drug abuse and addiction is delivered in many different settings, using a variety of behavioral and pharmacological approaches. In the U.S. alone, more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities provide counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, case management, and other types of services to patients with substance use disorders. This can make choosing a facility rather challenging.9

The Canyon has the answer, employing a fully trained and certified staff of therapists and physicians whose primary goal is to provide you with the best possible drug addiction and mental health care available today. We believe in you and your ability to regain your healthy life, your priorities, your dreams – that is, your “authentic self.” If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine abuse or addiction, call us on our 24/7 toll-free line today. We’re confident we can help.


1 “Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health”, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf, (September 2015).

2“What Is the Scope of Cocaine Use in the United States?”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states, (May 2016).

3 “Cocaine”, Drug Fact Sheet, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/Cocaine.pdf .

4 “Nationwide Trends”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends , (June 2015).5 “Trends & Statistics”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics, (August 2015).

6“Polydrug Use: What You Need to Know About Mixing Drugs”, Department of Health/AU, https://comorbidity.edu.au/sites/default/files/Polydrug%20Use.pdf .

7 “United States Ranks First in Lifetime Use of Three Drugs”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2009/11/united-states-ranks-first-in-lifetime-use-three-drugs, (November 1, 2009).

8 “Mental and Substance Abuse Disorders”, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders, (March 8, 2016).

9 “Drug Addiction Treatment in the United States”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states, (December 2012).

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