“We have multiple drug problems in the US. We need to focus on more than one drug at a time.”
~ Dr. Keith Humphreys, Stanford University School of Medicine
Right now, the headlines are devoted to the ongoing opioid epidemic. But under the public radar, there is another drug that is killing thousands of people – especially African-Americans. After a sharp decline a decade ago, cocaine has made a record comeback.
Among non-Hispanic black Americans, cocaine is a larger problem than heroin, and has been that way for almost 20 years.
- 2012-2015: The cocaine-related overdose death rate among black men was 6 per 100,000 people.
- During the same time period, the heroin death rate among black men was 45 per 100,000.
- Although drug usage rates among black women is lower than that of black men, cocaine deaths still exceed heroin deaths in their demographic.
Why Cocaine and Why Now?
Between 2006 and 2010, cocaine consumption in America fell 50%. But today, fueled by a Colombian supply that is at an all-time high and falling prices, cocaine abuse in the US and Europe has risen sharply. According to the DEA’s 2017 Drug Threat Assessment, between 2015 and 2016, retail cocaine prices dropped by more than 18% while purity increased by over 15%.
Other relevant statistics:
- In 2015, there were an estimated 1.9 million current – within the past month – cocaine users in the US.
- In 2014, there were “only” 1.53 million users.
- The number of first-time cocaine users has also spiked by 26%.
- In 2014, 766,000 Americans used cocaine for the first time.
- By 2015, the number of cocaine initiates jumped to 968,000.
- Between 2015 and 2016, workplace screenings testing positive for cocaine increased by 12%.
A special concern, the DEA reports the increasing emergence of cocaine mixed with fentanyl and other related powerful synthetic opioids.
Cocaine Presents a Special Problem
Addiction to opioids like prescription painkillers or illicit street heroin can be helped with certain FDA-approved medications. But there is no proven pharmacological remedy for cocaine. Likewise, while the harm from intravenous heroin use can be reduced with such measures as clean needle exchanges, cocaine injection is a very common.
This makes other evidence-based therapies such as behavioral counseling EVEN MORE important. When struggling addicts learn that their brains were hijacked due to the chemicals in cocaine attaching to the brain’s reward circuitry, they can then learn how to identify triggers that lead to repeated use and respond and cope in a healthier manner.
Lasting Recovery in San Diego is one of the most-trusted outpatient rehabs in Southern California. If you’re struggling with addiction to cocaine or any other substance, call for a confidential assessment TODAY.