Cocaine Statistics

Cocaine facts make the dangers of this drug clear. This stimulant is a highly addictive street drug. Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca plant, which grows in South America. In its processed form, cocaine is a fine, white powder. Learning cocaine facts and statistics on cocaine is important to understanding the dangers of this drug.

On the street, people may refer to cocaine as "crack," "rock," "snow," or "coke." People often snort this drug through the nose, or they may rub a small amount of the powder into the gums. Another option involves dissolving cocaine in water and then injecting it directly into the bloodstream. Crack cocaine has been processed into a different form, making it possible to smoke it. This form of the drug gets its name from the crackling noise it makes when it's heated.

Statistics of cocaine use suggest that people often take this drug in short binges, using it repeatedly and increasing the dosages in a narrow time frame. This method is necessary for users to maintain the effects of the drug on the brain. Cocaine causes changes in how the chemical dopamine behaves inside the brain. Under normal conditions, the brain releases dopamine in response to positive stimuli such as accomplishing a goal, exercising, or smelling a favorite food. After a cell releases dopamine under natural conditions, it moves back into the originating cell to be recycled. Dopamine released unnaturally due to cocaine will not recycle, which leads to a buildup of dopamine outside of the brain cells. As the dopamine accumulates, it blocks normal brain communication, which causes people to resort to cocaine again and again to replicate the good feelings.

The United States categorizes cocaine as a Schedule II drug, which means that it has limited medical benefit and the potential for abuse is high. Statistics of cocaine arrests place it second on the worldwide list of most trafficked illegal drugs. U.S. cocaine use statistics from 2014 show that 1.5 million Americans ages 12 and older reported using cocaine within the most recent month. People between the ages of 18 and 24 have the highest usage rate, with 1.4 percent reporting using cocaine within the past month.

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