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1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse

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4. COCAINE USE

In 1998, an estimated 1.8 million Americans were current cocaine users. This represents 0.8 percent of the population age 12 and older.

The number of cocaine users declined from 5.7 million in 1985 (3.0 percent of the population) to 1.4 million (0.7 percent of the population) in 1992, and has not changed significantly since then (Figure 9).

There were an estimated 595,000 (0.3 percent of the population) frequent cocaine users in 1998. Frequent use, defined as use on 51 or more days during the past year, was not different than in 1997, when there were an estimated 682,000 frequent cocaine users. Since this measure of frequent cocaine use was first estimated in 1985, no increases or decreases have been detected. It should be noted that these estimates are subject to large sampling error and potentially significant underreporting; the trends are believed to be more reliable than the point estimates.

The estimated number of occasional cocaine users (people who used in the past year but on fewer than 12 days) was 2.4 million in 1998, similar to what it had been in 1997 (2.6 million). The number of users decreased from 1985 ( 7.1 million) to 1994 and remained unchanged since then.

The estimated number of current crack users was about 437,000 in 1998, and there have been no changes since 1988.

Age

The highest rate of current cocaine use in 1998 was for those age 18-25 (2.0 percent). This represents a significant increase over the 1.2 percent observed in 1997. Rates were 0.8 percent for youths age 12-17, 1.2 percent for young adults age 26-34, and 0.5 percent for adults 35 years and older, and the rates did not change for these groups.

Race/Ethnicity

Rates of current cocaine use were 1.3 percent for blacks, 1.3 percent for Hispanics, and 0.7 percent for whites in 1998. The rate of cocaine use increased significantly between 1997 and 1998 from 0.8 percent to 1.3 percent for Hispanics and did not change for other racial/ethnic groups.

Gender

Men continued to have a higher rate of current cocaine use than women (1.1 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, in 1998). These rates were similar to rates in 1997 and have been relatively stable since 1992.

Region/Urbanicity

In 1998 the rate of current cocaine use was 0.6 percent in the Northeast region and the North Central region. The South region and the West region had a rate of 1.0 percent.

Rates of current cocaine use were 0.9 percent in large metropolitan areas, 0.8 percent in small metropolitan areas, and 0.5 percent in nonmetropolitan areas in 1998.

Rural areas have lower rates of cocaine use than other areas. Average annual rates for 1997 and 1998 were 0.5 percent in rural nonmetropolitan areas and 0.8 percent in non-rural areas. Among youths, a similar pattern held, with 0.4 percent of rural youths and 1.0 percent of non-rural youths using cocaine in the past month.

Education

Current cocaine use rates were strongly related to educational status. Among adults age 18 and older in 1998, those who had not completed high school had a current use rate of 1.4 percent. The rate was 0.8 percent among those with a high school education, 0.7 percent among those with some college, and 0.5 percent among college graduates.

Employment

The rate of current cocaine use was highest among the unemployed, as 3.4 percent of unemployed adults (age 18 and older) were current cocaine users in 1998, compared with only 0.9 percent of full-time employed adults and 0.5 percent of part-time employed adults. However, in terms of absolute numbers, most cocaine users were employed. Of the 1.6 million adult current cocaine users in 1998, 1.1 million (7.0 percent) were employed either full or part time.

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This page was last updated on June 01, 2008.