Cocaine in 21st Century America

drugs 908533 640

drugs 908533 640

The 21st-century is beginning to be recognized as the “Decades of Drug Use,” as so much of the problems that we face and that we have faced since the turn of the century have seemed to revolve around drugs and alcohol. Needless to say, drug and alcohol misuse is now one of the top if not the top health concern in America today, and cocaine has played a part in that.

Cocaine first became really popular in the United States in the 1960s, and its popularity soared to its highest point ever in the 1970s. But following major law enforcement and legal crackdowns from the federal government and the Drug Enforcement Administration, interest in the drug began to recede, And when crack cocaine was first brought to the forefront in the early 1980s, powdered cocaine began to take a back seat. But now all of that is changing and powdered cocaine is beginning to make a comeback once again.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a drug substance originally derived from the coca plant from South America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is best defined as follows:

  • “Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. Although health care providers can use it for valid medical purposes, such as local anesthesia for some surgeries, recreational cocaine use is illegal. As a street drug, cocaine looks like a fine, white, crystal powder. Street dealers often mix it with things like cornstarch, talcum powder, or flour to increase profits. They may also mix it with other drugs such as the stimulant amphetamine, or synthetic opioids, including fentanyl. Adding synthetic opioids to cocaine is especially risky when people using cocaine don’t realize it contains this dangerous additive. Increasing numbers of overdose deaths among cocaine users might be related to this tampered cocaine.”

Clearly, cocaine is a dangerous and risky drug, especially nowadays, though that has not stopped tens of millions of Americans from having experimented with it at least once in the last several decades.

Cocaine in America Today

Ever wonder why people misuse drugs? For the most part, they are looking for an escape of some kind, a way out of the morass or the difficulties of day to day life, a way out of the troubles and pitfalls and difficulties that they face on a regular basis. Sometimes, people are just looking for an escape, a way to get away from the trials and tribulations of life. Sometimes, they are looking for a new experience, a way to just “get away from it all” for a few short minutes.

The 1990s saw some of the lowest rates of drug use across America yet. These were some good times, some happy moments where drug use was at considerably reduced rates of prevalence. But they were not meant to last.

When the early-2000s rolled around, drug use began to take off, and more people began to get addicted to drugs and alcohol than we had seen yet. It all began with opioid pharmaceutical drugs. The use of opioids for pain relief is what set off the 21st-century addiction epidemic, as millions of Americans became addicted to the very drugs they were given that were supposed to help them with their pain. Before long, other drugs began to make a comeback, like heroin, hallucinogenics, and of course, cocaine.

According to a research paper published by verywellmind.com:

  • “Cocaine is the second most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. Nearly 1.5 million Americans (0.6 percent of the population) reported using cocaine according to a 2014 study. The rate of use has remained relatively steady since 2009 after a sharp decline from the 1990s and early 2000s. Users can be from all economic status, all ages, and all genders. A higher rate is reported among young adults between 18 and 25 years old.”

According to researched facts compiled by the website, factretriever.com:

  • “The United States consumes approximately 37% of the world’s cocaine, although they only make up less than 5% of the world’s population. Europe and South America round out the top three cocaine consumers. After marijuana, cocaine is the second most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Cocaine has been described as the “perfect heart attack drug” because it increases blood pressure, stiffens arteries, and thickens heart muscle walls. These abnormalities persist long after the effects of cocaine have worn off, even in recreational users. Cocaine overdose is the most common reason for drug-related visits to the emergency department in the U.S., causing 31% of such visits. In 1978, cocaine accounted for only 1% of drug-related emergency room visits.”

Clearly, there is a large degree of risk in the use and misuse of cocaine, especially today as it would seem that cocaine is sending Americans to the hospital at a rate far in excess of the 1970s cocaine-related hospital visits. Clearly, the drug is more prominent now that it has been in decades.

As we move forward into the following years, our focus has to be on helping those who are addicted to cocaine, and our focus also has to be on protecting others from becoming addicted to the drug. We can do the latter by exercising prevention techniques and educating the American people on the risks attendant with cocaine use. We can do the former by helping current cocaine addicts get into and through drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. With these approaches, we can reduce cocaine use.





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