Based on information from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the rate of cocaine use across the country has remained relatively constant since 2009. The latest available data indicates that in 2014 approximately 1.5 million individuals reported use of cocaine in the month prior to the survey. The age range associated with the highest use of cocaine consists of individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 years old. Cocaine use in this context refers to any form of cocaine use, including powder, crack cocaine, and other forms.
All cocaine-related products remain classified as Schedule II controlled substances by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, indicating that there are some limited medicinal uses for these products. They can only be obtained under specific instances by licensed medical personal, and their distribution is controlled and monitored tightly by the government.
According to SAMHSA, cocaine use remains a problem in the New England states, although the trends vary from state to state based on the most recent available data for the years 2013-2014.
- Massachusetts: There were approximately 134,000 individuals reporting cocaine use in the month prior to the survey. This consisted of 3,000 individuals between the ages of 12 and 17; 49,000 between the ages of 18 and 25; and 82,000 over the age of 26.
- Connecticut: Approximately 66,000 individuals admitted to past-month use of cocaine, consisting of 2,000 individuals between the ages of 12 and 17; 25,000 individuals aged 18-25; and 39,000 individuals over the age of 26.
- New Hampshire: Approximately 28,000 individuals admitted to past-month use of cocaine. This included about 1,000 individuals between the ages of 12 and 17; 12,000 individuals aged 18-25; and 15,000 individuals over the age of 26.
- Rhode Island: About 18,000 individuals admitted past-month use of cocaine. This included 8,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 and 10,000 individuals over the age of 26.
- Maine: Approximately 16,000 individuals admitted to past-month use of cocaine consisting of 6,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 and 10,000 individuals over the age of 26.
- Vermont: About 12,000 individuals admitted to past-month use of cocaine, consisting of 5,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 and 6,000 individuals over the age of 26.
The overall trend indicates a decline in the use of cocaine for individuals under the age of 17 compared to cocaine use figures reported in the 1990s and the early 2000s. Cocaine is often reported as being the second or third most abused illicit drug in New England states behind marijuana and heroin. As more and more states legalize marijuana, cocaine will most likely become the second most abused illicit drug in most of the New England states.
The United States Department of Justice reports that New England states continue to receive cocaine from Mexican and Columbian distribution sources. The Mexican sources may often have direct contacts from Texas, Arizona, and California where the drug is distributed after being brought in from Mexico. Due to the number of sources for cocaine and competition between the illegal suppliers, the drug remains readily available in New England. It is often abused with other drugs, such as alcohol, marijuana, and opioid drugs, including heroin and prescription narcotic medications.
Individuals who chronically use cocaine may experience adverse health consequences, including cardiovascular issues, respiratory issues, liver damage, neurological damage, and psychiatric issues including issues with hallucinations and psychotic behaviors. SAMHSA reports that in 2014 approximately 913,000 Americans were estimated to satisfy the diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for a stimulant use disorder as a result of cocaine abuse (encompassing both the notions of cocaine abuse and addiction to cocaine). The Drug Abuse Warning Network reported that, in 2011, cocaine was involved in nearly half of 1.3 million emergency room admissions for drug abuse (505,224 out of 1.3 million). Nationally, deaths from cocaine abuse occur more often in men than in women at a rate of nearly 3:1.
The DSM-5 lists the actual diagnostic criteria for all recognized substance use disorders, including those related to cocaine abuse. The formal diagnosis of a substance use disorder can only be made by a licensed healthcare professional. There are no medical tests, such as blood tests or neuroimaging tests, that can diagnose a substance use disorder, and the diagnosis must be made based on behavioral data. Some signs that an individual may be dealing with cocaine abuse include:
Drug Addiction Treatment in New England
The best chance for success in cocaine abuse recovery is via a formal treatment program, and there are various options available in New England. SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator tool helps to connect people with treatment facilities in particular regions, providing basic information on their offerings.
Each state in the region has a department that governs public programs, including addiction treatment and mental health offerings. For example, Maine’s Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services is responsible for regulation of the state’s services in this arena. The department also has a number of crisis numbers people can call when in need. In New Hampshire, Community Mental Health Centers are available for each region, providing public assistance to those with mental health and substance abuse issues. The Office of Health and Human Services in Massachusetts offers information on public assistance for substance abuse and addiction issues.
In addition to public offerings, there are many private substance abuse treatment centers throughout New England that are equipped to treat those struggling with cocaine abuse and addiction. While public options are often free or low-cost, they generally involve a waiting list of some kind, whereas people may receive more expedient and individualized care at a private facility. Most private addiction treatment facilities accept insurance in order to alleviate some of the financial burden, and many offer payment plans, allowing clients to pay their bills incrementally over a set period of time.