In 1997 an estimated 1.5 million Americans, or 0.7 percent of the population age 12 and older, were current cocaine users, a significant decline from the 5.7 million cocaine users reported in 1985. An estimated 682,000 Americans (0.3 percent of the population) were frequent cocaine users, defined as those who use cocaine on 51 or more days during the past year. Since this measure of frequent cocaine use was first estimated in 1985, no significant increases or decreases have been detected. The estimated number of current crack users was about 604,000 in 1997, and there have been no statistically significant changes since 1988.
These estimates of the extent of cocaine use based on the NHSDA may be conservative because many of the most frequent users belong to population subgroups not well represented in household surveys. Based on additional data sources that take account of users underrepresented in the NHSDA, the Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) estimates the number of chronic cocaine users at 3.6 million.
The use of cocaine powder rose steadily in 8th, 10th, and 12th graders throughout the first half of the 1990s, but rates of cocaine use in these groups remained level in 1996 and 1997. Among eighth graders, perceived risk remained constant this year, and disapproval of use actually increased, both after an earlier period of erosion in these attitudes. The use of crack cocaine was level for all grades.
Many indicators also show that cocaine use is leveling off among the general population. Cocaine-related deaths were stable in the majority of U.S. cities reporting, and the percentage of treatment admissions for primary cocaine problems declined slightly or remained stable in most urban areas. However, supplies of cocaine remain abundant.
As in the past, the rate of current cocaine use in 1997 was highest among those ages 18 to 25 years (1.2 percent). Rates were 1.0 percent for youth ages 12 to 17 years, 0.9 percent for adults 26 to 34 years, and 0.5 percent for adults age 35 and older. The rate for young adults ages 18 to 34 was significantly lower in 1997 than in 1996. Rates of past-month cocaine use were 1.4 percent for blacks, 0.8 percent for Hispanic whites, and 0.6 percent for non-Hispanic whites. Cocaine use among men was almost twice that among women.
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