Substance Abuse
Substance Abuse: Cocaine

The Cocaine Threat in Orange County

According to the 2017 Drug Threat Assessment 2017 released by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the availability and use of cocaine in the United States is increasing. In fact, the DEA reports that cocaine may be a bigger threat than it has been in over a decade.

Let’s examine the cocaine problem here in Orange county, elsewhere in Southern California, and across the United States.

Cocaine Abuse – More Prevalent Than You Might Expect

Would you be shocked to learn that cocaine is the third-most-used drug in this country? The statistics tell the tale:

  • Lifetime use: 38,744,000 Americans
  • Past year use: 4,828,000
  • Past month use: 1,876,000

To put those numbers in perspective, more Americans have used cocaine then prescription painkillers. Surprising, the ongoing opioid epidemic continues to dominate the news.

As it is in other places, the cocaine threat in orange county is severely underreported. This creates a problem, because the number of new initiates, current users, and fatal overdoses are all on the rise will. For example:

  • 2014: About 5 million people self-reported past-month cocaine use.
  • 2015: That number had risen to nearly 9 million, a 23% increase.
  • 2014: 766,000 people used cocaine for the first time.
  • 2015: The number of new cocaine users jumped to 968,000, a 26% increase.
  • Since 2013, the number of people initiating cocaine use spiked by over 80%.
  • 1 in 6 new cocaine users will become dependent in 10 years or less.
  • Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were more than 14,500 cocaine-related overdose deaths in 2017.
  • Since 2010, that equates to an increase of over 350%.

Cocaine Abuse in California

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s TEDS report counted 4237 rehab admissions for cocaine in California in 2017. However, only about 11% of people with Substance Use Disorders actually receive proper treatment.

Doing the math, that works out to over 38,000 California residents RIGHT NOW who need—but aren’t receiving—specialized care for an addiction to cocaine.

Why Has Cocaine Made a Comeback?

Cocaine is once again a serious drug threat because of three factors—record supply levels, increasing purity, and falling prices. In June 2018, the Office of National Drug Control Policy released a report stating that Columbian coca cultivation and cocaine production are at an all-time high.

  • 2017: 516,450 acres of land were committed to cultivating the coca plant.
  • That represents a 11% one-year increase from 2016.
  • 2012: “Just” 192,742 acres were used.
  • That is a 268% increase in only 5 years.
  • 2017: Potential pure cocaine production rose to over 2 million pounds.
  • This is a 19% one-year increase, compared to 2016.
  • 2012: Cocaine production was less than 463,000 pounds.
  • That is an increase of 439%.

This is particularly relevant, because Columbia is the source over 90% of all cocaine seizures in America.

There are other factors to consider.

  • Cocaine purity is increasing. From 2011 to 2016, average purity of seized samples went up by 15%.
  • Prices are dropping. Between 2015 and 2016, the retail price for a pure gram of cocaine fell by more than 18%, going from $202 to $165.

Some sources estimate that 95% of the cocaine in the US is smuggled in by Mexican cartels. And because Orange County so close to major entry points in San Diego, cocaine prices in the OC are among the lowest in the United States. For example, in Southern California, a kilogram of coke costs between $14,000 and $21,000, compared to over $35,000 on the East Coast.

What’s the Bottom Line about Cocaine in Orange County?

Cocaine is a real and growing danger in every community in Orange County, from Anaheim to San Clemente and everywhere in-between.

Coke dramatically changes the brain from the very use. Chronic abuse affects the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Short-term use raises the risk of stroke, while long-term cocaine use makes brain cells eat themselves.

Of special relevance, while other types of SUD can be treated with anti-craving medication, there are currently no FDA-approved medications for cocaine addiction. This makes early intervention, education, individual counseling, group therapy, and other evidence-based recovery strategies even more important.

Since 1978, Chapman House Treatment Centers has helped individuals and families faced with the disease of addiction return to sobriety and stability. As one of the top drug and alcohol rehab programs in Southern California, Chapman House has the experience and expertise you need to transform your life for the better.


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