Cocaine Abuse and Addiction Statistics
Cocaine is an illegal drug made from the South American coca plant. In 2019, about 2 million Americans reported past-month cocaine use and 5.5 million reported past-year cocaine use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the largest age group at risk for cocaine abuse is adults between 18 to 25 years of age.
For at least 15 years, past-year cocaine substance abuse has fluctuated from about 1.5% to 2.5%, hovering around the 2% mark. In 2019 about 2% of Americans used cocaine within the past year.
In 2019, a reported 671,000 Americans used cocaine for the first time.
While dangerous and addictive in any form, cocaine can be found in powder form or as crack cocaine. An estimated 12% of American adults have used powder cocaine and 4% have used crack cocaine.
The Dangers of Cocaine Abuse by the Numbers
In 2011, there were 505,224 cocaine-related emergency room visits in the United States. Cocaine was involved in about 40% of all drug-related emergency room visits that year.
The use of cocaine can cause heart attacks, strokes, and seizures. All of these symptoms are dangerous and potentially deadly.
- Cocaine is involved in nearly 1 in 5 overdose deaths.
- Cocaine overdose deaths went down from 2006 to 2012 but have been steadily increasing again since 2012.
- Almost 4,000 Americans died of cocaine-involved overdoses in 2017.
Cocaine Use Statistics by Race
Cocaine abuse is a problem among all different races and ethnicities. Interesting differences exist among the forms of cocaine used most among each racial group. Black Americans are more likely to use cocaine in the form of crack. Crack is a smokable form of cocaine that can be bought in smaller quantities and therefore lower prices. The low price of crack has made it more common in inner cities.
Data from the 2013 National Survey of Drug Use and Health:
|Lifetime Cocaine Use (Any Form)||16.9%||9.7%||11.6%|
|Past-year Cocaine Use (Any Form)||1.9%||1.8%||1.7%|
|Lifetime Crack Cocaine Use||3.7%||4.6%||1.7%|
|Past-year Crack Cocaine Use||0.3%||0.8%||0.1%|
Cocaine use has had some devastating effects on the African American community. Some evidence shows that although Black Americans may be less likely to use in general, they reported a higher frequency of use for both powder and crack cocaine. This higher frequency puts them at a higher risk of drug addiction.
Another unfortunate issue for African Americans is higher arrest rates. Crack cocaine users are more likely to be arrested than powder cocaine users and are subject to harsher sentencing laws.
- 83% of Americans arrested for crack trafficking offenses are Black
- In 2003, Black Americans made up 80% of crack offense arrests even though 66% of crack users are white or Hispanic.
- From 1986 to 2010, the minimum sentence was the same for 100 grams of cocaine as it was for 1 gram of crack cocaine. Since 2010 it has been 18:1.
- Black Americans account for 37% of arrests, 54% of convictions, and 74% of sentences for drug offenses but only account for 15% of regular drug users.
Cocaine Statistics by Age Groups
Cocaine use is significantly more common amongst young adults ages 18-25 than in any other age group, according to data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Americans’ past-year cocaine use by age group:
- 12 to 17 – 0.4%
- 18 to 25 – 5.3%
- 26 and older – 1.7%
Rates of cocaine use for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders have remained fairly stable over the past few years. The only significant change is that 10th graders were less likely to have used cocaine in 2020 than they were in the few years prior. Below is some data on adolescent cocaine use from 2020.
Monitoring the Future Survey Results from 2020 – Cocaine Use
|8th Graders||10th Graders||12th Graders|
Cocaine Use Statistics in Women vs. Men
There is some evidence to support the theory that women feel the effects of cocaine more intensely than men and are more likely to become addicted to it. The female hormone estradiol may be responsible for this difference but researchers are still unsure why.
Past-month cocaine use for women in 2019 by age group:
- 12-17: 0.1% (same rate as 2018)
- 18-25: 1.4% (up by 0.2% from 2018)
- 26+: 0.5% (up by 0.1% from 2018
Cocaine use in women can be especially concerning during pregnancy and can cause complications before, during, and after birth.
A reported 8.5% of pregnant women ages 15-44 used cocaine in the past year (2019).
Cocaine use during pregnancy can cause babies to be born prematurely and smaller than babies born to mothers who did not use cocaine. There is also some evidence that these children may grow up to have subtle attention, cognition, behavior, and processing issues.
Cocaine Statistics in the LGBTQ+ Community
In 2019, cocaine was the 4th most commonly used illicit drug among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) adults in America.
- 7.1% of LGB Americans used cocaine in the past year
- 2.8% of LGB Americans ages 18-25 used cocaine in the past month
- 2.7% of LGB Americans ages 36 or older used cocaine in the past month
LGBTQ+ individuals can be more likely to experience discrimination, violence, trauma, homelessness, and other issues due to their sexual minority status. These issues can cause higher rates of drug use.
Cocaine Treatment Types and How to Get Help
Cocaine addiction is generally treated with behavioral therapies. There are many different strategies for behavioral cocaine addiction treatment and they are available in inpatient and outpatient settings.
Cocaine use contributed to about 6% of treatment facility admissions in 2013.
There are not currently any Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications to treat cocaine addiction. There are however some promising medications and vaccines being studied in clinical trials.
If you or a loved one has a cocaine addiction, do not hesitate to reach out for help. Treatment facilities are available all over the country.