Cocaine is one of the most deadly and addictive substances in the world. Learn more about cocaine abuse statistics.

Cocaine is a stimulant made from the leaves of the South American coca plant and is considered one of the most addictive substances in the world. In 2016, nearly 2 million individuals ages 12 and older reported cocaine use in the United States. Cocaine facts and statistics suggest that cocaine use differs by age, ethnicity, gender and employment status, among other factors. Since 2013, cocaine use has been on the rise in the United States, partly due to its accessibility in major cities and how easily it is obtained by individuals.

Cocaine Statistics by Age

According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study based on data from 2016, approximately 1.9% of teenagers ages 12 to 17 reported cocaine use. In contrast, the next two chronological age groups represent the highest rates of cocaine use. Young adults ages 18 to 25 reported cocaine use at 5.6% followed by adults ages 26 to 34 at 3.8%. These results indicate that age is a large factor in cocaine use. 

Perhaps younger generations now receive better education regarding the dangers of cocaine use, or maybe cocaine use spikes due to the stresses of college and entering the workforce. Additionally, the high cost of cocaineis generally prohibitive for younger teens relative to other drugs like marijuana, alcohol or tobacco. 

Cocaine Statistics in Adults

Cocaine use typically begins in early adulthood and declines thereafter. Cocaine use also varies by geographical location in the United States, with higher use reported in the northeast and in several western states. The 2014-2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that the states with the highest cocaine use in young adults ages 18-25 were: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. 

One reason for higher rates of cocaine use in young adults and adults aged 26 and older is due to supply and demand. Since 2013, the world’s largest supplier of cocaine, Colombia, has increased its supply by more than double, making it much easier for individuals to obtain. Some other interesting statistics on cocaine use in adultsinclude:

  • Young adults ages 18 to 25 were the heaviest cocaine users in 2016 and 2017
  • In individuals aged 18 and older, lifetime cocaine use was reported in more men than women in 2016 and 2017
  • In 2017, approximately 1.3% of females and 2.6% of males reported using cocaine in the past month when the study was conducted

Cocaine Statistics in Teens

According to the CDC report (2018), cocaine use in teens was highest in individuals ages 16-17 at 3.6 %. Possible risk factors include peer pressure and other life stresses that may initially influence use in this age group. Other teen-related cocaine use statistics from the 2017 NSDUH report include:

  • 0.5% of teenagers ages 12 to 17 reported cocaine use in the past year (2016)
  • 0.1% of teenagers ages 12 to 17 reported using cocaine use in the past month when the study was conducted (2016)
  • Cocaine use in an individual’s lifetime was near 0.8% for teenagers ages 12 to 17 in this study (2016)

Cocaine Statistics in Seniors

Although cocaine use typically declines by late adulthood (ages 35 and older), there is a staggering incidence of cocaine use in older adults. In NSDUH reports from 2007 to 2014, older adults were asked about their cocaine use in the past month from when the surveys were conducted. Approximately 4,300 older adults reported using cocaine on an average day in the past month during these years. Other interesting cocaine use statistics in seniors include: 

  • A study from 2009 determined that cocaine use in seniors aged 50 and older was near 2.3%
  • In the same study, 13% of cocaine users with a lifetime history reported currently using cocaine at the time the study was conducted
  • Elderly individuals who are dependent on cocaine or other substances have on average shorter lifespans than their non-dependent counterparts
  • According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) conducted in 2012, in adults ages 65 and older, 2 out of 14,230 total admissions to substance abuse treatment programs were due to cocaine use
  • In 2011, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) found that there were 13 emergency department visits due to cocaine misuse on an average day in seniors ages 65 and older 

Cocaine Statistics by Gender

While cocaine use occurs in both genders, males disproportionately use cocaine over females. According to the 2018 CDC report, approximately 2.5% of adult males and 1.3% of adult females report cocaine use. Other cocaine use statistics by gender include:

  • Starting at age 18 and older, more males than females reported cocaine use in their lifetime, in the past year, and in the past month when these studies were conducted (2015 and 2016)
  • From 2016-2017, adult males ages 26 and older reported slightly higher rates of cocaine use, whereas adult females reported similar rates of cocaine use for both years. 
  • Females may be more sensitive to the physiological effects of cocaine use than males
  • Females may be more protected from the negative effects of cocaine use on the brain than males

Cocaine Statistics in Pre-Pubescents

The 2016 NSDUH report surveyed middle school and high-school aged students about the use of cocaine in their lifetime, the past year (2015) and the past month that the survey was conducted. This study found that middle school and high schoolers reported significantly lower levels of cocaine use than their adult counterparts. Some statistics on cocaine use in middle and high school students include:

  • Lifetime cocaine use was reported at 1.4% in 8th grade students
  • Lifetime cocaine use was reported at 2.6% in 10th grade students
  • Lifetime cocaine use was reported at 3.9% in 12th grade students

Additionally, there are several risk factors that predispose adolescents to use cocaine. Risk factors can be subdivided by family, individual and miscellaneous risk factors. Some of these include:

  • Lack of parental supervision
  • Lack of family communication
  • Parental cocaine use
  • History of early childhood aggression 
  • Childhood physical, sexual, mental or emotional abuse
  • Lower socioeconomic status and education levels
  • Ease of obtaining cocaine

Cocaine Statistics by Ethnicity

Cocaine is used mostly by Caucasian Americans relative to other ethnicities in the United States. However, the United States is a predominantly Caucasian country (76.6% of the 2018 population). When normalized to the number of individuals in an ethnic population, rates of cocaine use are similar among different ethnicities. In 2017, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported rates of cocaine use in the following populations:

  • Caucasian Americans – 3.9 million users (~2.0% of Caucasian Americans use cocaine)
  • Hispanic Americans – 1 million users (~1.7% of Hispanic Americans use cocaine)
  • African Americans – 657,000 users (~1.5% of African Americans use cocaine)
  • Two or more ethnic backgrounds – 190,000 users (~2.2% of individuals with two or more ethnic backgrounds use cocaine)
  • Native American/Alaska Natives – 52,000 users (~1.2% of Native Americans/Alaska Natives use cocaine)
  • Asian Americans – 140,000 users (~0.7% of Asian Americans use cocaine)

Cocaine Statistics by Education Level

Education level is also a factor in cocaine use. A study conducted in 2007 found a correlation between cocaine use and education level. The authors determined that individuals with less education had decreased access to information about the dangers of cocaine use than those who received more education. Additional statistics from the 2017 SAMHSA report, regarding cocaine use by education level include:

  • The highest use of cocaine in the past year (2015) was among individuals who attended college
  • In adults ages 26 and older, cocaine use was highest in individuals who had at least some college or an associate’s degree

Cocaine Statistics by Employment Status

Since cocaine is a stimulant, users may experience cognitive difficulties in work-related tasks and have trouble maintaining employment status. In a study conducted in 2013,  112 patients were monitored over a period of 25 weeks for cocaine cravings. The results showed that individuals’ cocaine cravings were higher Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, during typical business hours. This study suggests that cocaine use was suppressed during business hours, despite cravings. Other interesting statistics about cocaine use by employment status include:

  • In 2016 or 2017, cocaine use in the past month when the survey was conducted, was highest in individuals who were employed full-time 
  • In 2016 and 2017, cocaine use in the past year was highest in unemployed adults aged 26 and older

Driving Under the Influence of Cocaine Statistics

Like other stimulants, cocaine use can impair an individual’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), using cocaine while driving can make an individual more prone to aggression and recklessness.  In 2007, the percentage of fatally injured drivers that tested positive for drugs was at 25% and has increased to 42% by 2016. More startling statistics on driving under the influence of cocaine include:

  • In 2017, approximately 31% of drug enforcement evaluations were due to stimulant use including cocaine, while driving
  • In the same study, 37% of drug enforcement evaluations were due to the use of multiple drugs including cocaine, while driving
  • Using cocaine simultaneously with another drug can amplify the effects of each drug while driving

Cocaine Overdose Statistics

Hospitalization and deaths due to cocaine use have been on the rise since 2017, and may be attributed to how easily an individual can obtain cocaine. Since cocaine is an illegal drug, it may be mixed with other substances that are extremely dangerous unbeknownst to the individual using cocaine. When adjusting for age, the rates of cocaine-related deaths increased by 52.4% from 2015 to 2016. More startling cocaine overdose statistics include:

  • Age-adjusted overdose deaths involving cocaine went from 4.7% to 6.2% in males from 2016 to 2017.
  • Age-adjusted overdose deaths involving cocaine went from 1.8 to 2.5% in females from 2016 to 2017
  • The incidence of cocaine overdoses are estimated at 25 Caucasians, 17.1 African and 9.5 Hispanic Americans per 100,000 cases (standardized to the United States population)
  • According to the 2018 CDC report, approximately 9.2% of adults ages 35 to 44 and 13.2% of adults ages 45 to 54 received hospitalization for cocaine poisoning in 2015. 

Rates of Cocaine Relapse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the overall relapse rates for substance use disorders range from 40 to 60%. It is common for previous cocaine users to relapse within the first year of recovery, particularly if users receive no medical treatment or support. In order to prevent cocaine relapse, individuals should focus on:

  • Maintaining healthy support systems
  • Continuing therapy
  • Avoid situations involving cocaine use

Statistics on Cocaine Treatment and Recovery

According to the NIDA, typical treatment for cocaine use consists of cognitive behavioral therapy and social programs. Participation in religious organizations, social events and recovery-based 12 step programs can be effective measures for maintaining long-term sobriety. The Recovery Village ®  offers various types of cocaine treatment including:

  • Inpatient rehab
  • Outpatient rehab
  • Group therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders

If you or a loved one struggle with a cocaine addiction, The Recovery Village ® can help. Call today to speak to a representative about individualized treatment programs for a cocaine addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Bonnie Bullock, PHD
Bonnie is a medical communications specialist at Boston Strategic Partners, a global health industry consulting firm. Her recent work in mental health includes developing conference materials for clinical studies in mood disorders and copy-editing clinical manuscripts. Read more

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