The Rate of Cocaine Use Among Americans is Increasing

Our Blog

The Rate of Cocaine Use Among Americans is Increasing

The majority of society’s fears about the drug epidemic in the United States today is focused on the increasing rates of heroin and prescription opiate use. We are in the midst of a crisis with this class of drugs, as people die every day from opiate overdoses. However, getting much less attention is the increasingly high rate of cocaine use in the country. In the shadow of the opiate epidemic lurks the danger of rising numbers of people who report using this dangerous drug in recent years.

Rates of Cocaine Use in Recent Years

According to several government reports, cocaine use is on the rise in the United States, especially among young adults ages 18-25. Reports on cocaine use in America reveal some disturbing trends:

  • The number of reported deaths caused by overdoses on cocaine was the highest in 2015 that it’s been since the year 2006 (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.)
  • Between 2013 and 2015, the number of young adults who reported cocaine use for the first time increased by 61% (National Survey on Drug Use and Health.)
  • One out of every twenty people surveyed between the ages of 18 and 25 reported using cocaine in 2015 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health.)

These figures were reported in an article featured in The Washington Post which detailed the growing problem of cocaine imports into the United States. In the article, it was reported that the State Department found that most of the cocaine coming into the country originated in Colombia. In fact, the article says that around 90% of the cocaine found on the black market in America comes from Colombia (The Washington Post), and that the increasing rates of coca (the plant that cocaine comes from) production in that country may be one of the reasons that cocaine use is becoming more widespread (The Washington Post.)

The Dangers of Cocaine Use

The increasing availability of coca and the related increase in cocaine use is alarming because this drug can have devastating consequences. Cocaine is a stimulant drug, and short-term use can cause increased energy levels, euphoria, decreased appetite, and a decreased need for sleep. In large amounts, it can be fatal, even if it’s someone’s first time using the drug. The dangerous side effects of cocaine use in the short-term include:

  • Increased heart rate, high blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Rapid breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Erratic or violent behavior
  • Extreme levels of energy
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Convulsions and seizures, which can be fatal

Over a longer period of time, regular cocaine use can lead to even worse physical and mental consequences. These effects include:

  • Permanent blood vessel damage in the heart and brain, which can lead to increased risk of heart attack or stroke
  • Chronic high blood pressure
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage (depending on the mode of use)
  • Respiratory failure (when smoked)
  • Damage to nose structure, such as in the nostrils or septum (when snorted)
  • Damage to veins and increased risk of contraction of HIV or hepatitis C (if injected)
  • Tooth decay
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Mood swings
  • Depression, irritability, anxiety
  • Increased tolerance and addiction
  • Greater risk of overdose

Cocaine use can lead to addiction, which can cause physical damage to the body, financial consequences, arrest and incarceration, inability to hold a job, dysfunction in relationships or loss of close friends and family, and emotional difficulties for both the user and their loved ones. For people who are prone to addiction (through a family history and genetic predisposition), or for people who struggle with mental illness, the effects of cocaine use can be even more serious.

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction differs from other substance addictions because the withdrawal and detox process is usually more psychological than physical. Unlike with opiates, there is no detox medication like buprenorphine that can get rid of the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal because they are mostly mental and emotional. Detox for cocaine can be done safely and made as comfortable as possible, but it is still a difficult process that is best done with medical supervision and counseling. Someone who detoxes from cocaine may experience depression, fatigue, craving, irritability, and anxiety. In order for these symptoms to go away, the brain of a regular cocaine user needs time to repair itself from the damage done to the “pleasure” receptors in the brain by prolonged substance use. If the individual successfully stays away from cocaine and other substances for a significant period of time, they will return to normal functioning. If you struggle with cocaine use and can’t stop on your own, you may need the help of clinical and medical professionals. If you’re ready for treatment for cocaine addiction, Wellness Retreat Recovery can help. Call us today at 888-821-0238 for information on our cocaine addiction treatment program.