Cocaine Facts

  • There is no safe way to use cocaine. Any route of administration can lead to absorption of toxic amounts of cocaine, leading to acute cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies that could result in sudden death.
  • The number of Americans that use cocaine weekly has remained steady at around a half million since 1983 according to the 1993 Household Drug Survey; 582,000 (0.3% of the population) were frequent cocaine users in 1995 (frequent meaning use on 51 or more d
  • In 1994, cocaine-related episodes comprised 28% of all emergency room drug-related episodes.
  • Street dealers dilute cocaine with inert (non-psychoactive) but similar-looking substances such as cornstarch, talcum powder, and sugar, or with active drugs such as procaine and benzocaine (used as local anesthetics), or other CNS stimulants such as amphetamines.

drug rehab and cocaine addiction

Sources in all areas of the country report that both cocaine powder ( HC1) and crack are readily available though many areas, including New York, have seen recent large seizures. However, in most areas , the demand for cocaine has stabilized or even declined. Eleven of the seventeen ethnographers describe cocaine use as "stable" or "stable at a high level" in their area; reporters in Los Angeles, New York, and Denver report that use has declined slightly.

Heavy cocaine and crack use is becoming more concentrated in a core of older, regular users. Several sources (Texas, California, Colorado, Florida) characterize the population as older, established drug users who live mainly in inner city areas. In Los Angeles, cocaine and crack users are described as "an aging population." Notably, few new users are surfacing in emergency rooms or in similar settings that would imply a growing population. Only Baltimore reports a continuous rise in new users.

However, there are some pockets of change. In Texas, cocaine use has increased in some middle income communities, and in Delaware and Washington, D.C., there are more new female cocaine users. The ethnographer in Atlanta reports that while crack is found primarily in inner city areas, it has become more common in some nearby suburbs.

Drugs that are used in combination with cocaine include heroin (in a speedball), alcohol, and marijuana. In Los Angeles, methamphetamine, a popular stimulant, is also used with or as a substitute for cocaine. In Austin and Miami, sources report increased popularity of Rohypnol, Ketamine, and MDMA among cocaine users.

Ethnographers report that high-level distributors include Mexicans, Colombians, and Dominicans. In some areas, all three groups supply the street markets (Texas, Florida, Washington, D.C.) while in others, suppliers are predominantly Colombian (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut). At the street level, cocaine and crack are sold by young non-users. These entrepreneurs may invest a small amount of capital for cocaine HCl, which they cook into crack to be packaged and sold at a profit. In some areas, like New York and New Jersey, they sell cocaine powder since users there prefer to cook their own crack. In some Southern areas (Texas, Georgia), African Americans and Hispanics dominate street level sales. Three areas (Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois) report that cocaine sellers are organized in gangs.

Prices and purchase amounts vary. In some areas in the East (Connecticut, New York, and Delaware), cocaine is sold in $10 to $20 bags. In Florida, Southern California, and Washington, D.C., rocks, vials, or bags of crack are sold for $5 to $10. Grams of cocaine powder range in price from $75 (Washington, D.C.) to $125 (St. Petersburg, FL). Sources report that the purity of cocaine is variable or high; only three sources report that purity is below 50 percent.

In New York, heightened enforcement of bans on crack paraphernalia (stems, pipes, screens) has led users to improvise modes of ingestion. Typically, water pipes used for smoking crack have two glass stems connected to a round chamber; one is thick and heat resistant and the user inhales from the other one, which is thin and more fragile. Some area stores were selling only the thin pipe, which is hazardous because it can shatter when used as the lighting end of the pipe. In addition, law enforcement officials have focused on cocaine sales from small food markets (bodegas), which has increased the number of sales from private apartments and home deliveries of cocaine HCl, known as "home sales." 

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