Re­port: Co­caine use a ‘reemerg­ing’ threat

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

Roughly 1-in-20 young adults in Amer­ica re­ported us­ing co­caine in the past year, ac­cord­ing to an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­port Tues­day that says 16 states saw an uptick while use in other states stayed flat, with no de­creases re­ported in any state or re­gion.

Co­caine use ranged from less than 2 per­cent of res­i­dents aged 18-25 in Mis­sis­sippi to more than 1-in-10 in New Hamp­shire, ac­cord­ing to the sub­stance abuse arm of the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Depart­ment.

And 968,000 peo­ple over age 12 re­ported they started us­ing co­caine in 2015, a 26 per­cent in­crease over 2014 and a higher to­tal than in each of the prior six years.

Taken to­gether, the re­sults in­di­cate that a drug as­so­ci­ated with the 1980s party scene is mak­ing a come­back, even as the U.S. grap­ples with a pre­scrip­tion painkiller and heroin epi­demic.

“Re­cent find­ings sug­gest that co­caine use may be reemerg­ing as a public health con­cern in the United States,” the re­port said.

The gov­ern­ment warns that co­caine, made from leaves of the coca plant na­tive to South Amer­ica, is a “pow­er­fully ad­dic­tive” stim­u­lant that can lead to fa­tal heart at­tacks and strokes.

Use among young adults aged 18-25 was par­tic­u­larly preva­lent in the six New Eng­land states and in a trio of west­ern states — Arizona, Colorado and Ore­gon. Delaware rounded out the top 10, with more than 6 per­cent of its young adults re­port­ing use.

The re­port does not in­di­cate why use is in­creas­ing, yet it says that by high­light­ing habits at the state level, it “may help pol­i­cy­mak­ers plan for and al­lo­cate re­sources to pro­vide ef­fec­tive pre­ven­tive in­ter­ven­tions and in­crease ac­cess to sub­stance use treat­ment.”

For now, the states and Congress are try­ing to catch up with an opi­oid cri­sis that is only get­ting worse.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion last week re­ported that more than 52,000 peo­ple died from a drug over­dose in 2015. About 63 per­cent of those over­dose deaths — more than 33,000 — in­volved a pre­scrip­tion painkiller or “il­licit” opi­oid, such as heroin or pow­er­ful syn­thet­ics like fen­tanyl.

That’s an in­crease from 2014, when about 61 per­cent of drug over­dose deaths — roughly 28,650 of 47,000 — in­volved an opi­oid.

Since 2000, more than 300,000 Amer­i­cans have died from an opi­oid-re­lated over­dose, the CDC said.

Ear­lier this month, Pres­i­dent Obama signed a sweep­ing med­i­cal in­no­va­tion bill that in­cludes $1 bil­lion in state grants to im­prove treat­ment and aware­ness of opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

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