Updated on May 17, 2024
5 min read

Crack Cocaine Use in the US

Crack cocaine is a highly addictive and potent form of cocaine. It has had a profound impact on individuals, families, and communities across the United States and beyond. 

The alarming statistics surrounding crack cocaine use, addiction, and related consequences highlight the urgent need for effective prevention, treatment, and support strategies. 

This article talks about the latest statistics on crack cocaine use. We’ll also discuss regional trends, health risks, addiction patterns, and treatment outcomes.

Key Statistics on Crack Cocaine Use

The following statistics underscore the prevalence and impact of crack cocaine use:

  • In 2019, 1.5% of women (2.1 million) used cocaine, including crack, in the past year in the U.S. 
  • Approximately 1 million or 7.1% of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) adults in the U.S. used cocaine in the past year, including crack cocaine.
  • African Americans are more likely to use the smokable crack version of cocaine than other races, which may be correlated to socioeconomic status.
  • Data from the 2013 National Survey of Drug Use and Health showed that lifetime crack cocaine use was 4.6% among Black individuals, 3.7% among White individuals, and 1.7% among Hispanic individuals.
  • The average sentence for crack cocaine trafficking offenders was 74 months, with 96.9% being sentenced to prison.
  • The top five districts for crack cocaine trafficking offenders were the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of North Carolina, the District of Puerto Rico, the Northern District of Texas, and the Middle District of Florida.
Crack addiction chart

Regional Trends in Crack Cocaine Use

Trends in crack cocaine use exhibit significant regional variations, influenced by factors such as local drug policies, social conditions, and availability:

United States and Global Trends

  • Rates of crack cocaine use have not been shown to be significantly higher between races in the U.S., despite law enforcement efforts targeting specific demographics.
  • Cocaine production is at a record high, with global use of cocaine indicating a long-term increase over the past decade, although the COVID-19 pandemic may have temporarily affected trends in 2020.

Canada and Europe

  • The prevalence of crack cocaine use among drug user populations in Canada is high, with considerable regional variation ranging from 86.2% in Vancouver to 2.4% in Quebec City.
  • The use of crack cocaine is on an upward trend in several Western European countries. However, European countries like France have not framed crack cocaine use as a public health epidemic, despite the rise of open drug scenes in Paris and its suburbs.

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Health Risks Associated with Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine use is associated with a variety of health risks and negative outcomes. In 2019, 15,883 people died of an overdose involving cocaine, and 505,224 (or roughly 40%) of all drug-related emergency room visits involved some form of cocaine.

Smoking crack cocaine can cause long-term and short-term negative side effects, including:

  • Raised stress hormones
  • Damage to the orbital frontal cortex
  • Increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure
  • Erratic and violent behavior
  • Cardiovascular effects like heart attacks and irregular heart rhythm
  • Lung damage and worsened asthma
  • Sexual problems
  • Auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Panic attacks, paranoia, and psychosis

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Crack Cocaine Addiction Compared to Other Substances

Crack cocaine addiction presents a unique set of challenges and statistics when compared to other substances:

Demographics and Usage Patterns

  • African Americans are more likely to use the smokable crack version of cocaine than other races, which may correlate with socioeconomic status.
  • The age group with the highest cocaine use (of any form) is 18 to 25 years old. However, crack cocaine is not highly popular among adolescents, who are significantly more likely to use powder cocaine or other illicit drugs than crack cocaine.
  • Women are less likely than men to use cocaine in any form, including crack. In 2019, about 1 million or 7.1% of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) adults in the U.S. used cocaine in the past year, including crack cocaine.

Health and Social Impact

  • Crack/cocaine users show more family problems than other substance users, including arguing, having trouble getting along with partners, and the need for additional childcare services to attend treatment.
  • Crack cocaine users face harsher legal consequences than powder cocaine users, with African Americans facing disproportionate arrest and sentencing rates for crack possession.
  • Crack users usually have a worse prognosis, with more severe dependence, involvement with criminality, risky sexual behavior, and more social impairments when compared with cocaine snorters and other substance users.

Treatment Success Rates for Crack Cocaine Addiction

The success rate of treatments for crack cocaine addiction varies, with several studies highlighting different aspects of recovery and relapse rates:

  • Research indicates that relapsing on cocaine is relatively common, with approximately 24% of people relapsing back to weekly cocaine use within a year following treatment.
  • A study that followed 131 crack cocaine users found that 39.7% reported being abstinent from cocaine for at least the last year, five years after treatment. However, the mortality rate among the cohort was extremely high, with 17.6% having died by the 5-year follow-up.
  • The first six months of pharmacological or psychosocial treatment is associated with reduced heroin and crack cocaine use. However, the effectiveness of pharmacological treatment is less pronounced for users of both drugs, suggesting the need for new strategies to treat individuals with combined heroin and crack cocaine addiction.

The crack cocaine crisis remains a significant public health concern, with far-reaching consequences for individuals, families, and communities. The statistics presented in this article highlight the complex interplay of socioeconomic factors, regional variations, health risks, and treatment challenges associated with crack cocaine use and addiction.

Addressing this crisis requires a comprehensive approach encompassing prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and personalized support services. Recognizing the severity of this crisis is the first step. By taking proactive steps to address it, we can work towards reducing the devastating impact of crack cocaine and promoting healthier, more resilient communities.

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Updated on May 17, 2024

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