Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council


Latest Trends in Cocaine

What is the scope of cocaine abuse in Middlesex County?

The majority (71.6%) of the 0.6 million recent cocaine “initiates” (Americans who tried cocaine for the first time) were 18 or older. The average age of an initiate was 21.2 years, which was similar to the average age in 2009 and 2008. (NSDUH, 2010)

In general, the use of cocaine among all age sectors of the American population has slowly declined since 2004. With Connecticut topping national averages, however, and the south central region higher than the state average, Middlesex County still has a significant number of cocaine users. People 18-25 years old smoke, snort, or shoot cocaine at nearly four times the rate of younger and older people (Graph A).

Graph A. Lifetime use of cocaine, all ages (%)

(Blue=Age 12-17; Red=Age 18-25; Green=Age 25+)
Source: NSDUH by 3-year increments

The 2011 YRBS asks, “During your life, how many times have you used any form of cocaine, including powder, crack, or freebase?” Five percent of Connecticut high school youth answered that they’d tried it at least once. Nearly twice as many boys as girls tried cocaine (6.3% v. 3.6%). In years past cocaine was associated with Caucasian people; currently, Hispanic youth lead with just over 7% use with Caucasian and African-American teens in a statistical tie at 4.5% and 3.9% respectively.

Unlike alcohol and marijuana use, where we see a clear age-related rise, cocaine is used sporadically by a small segment of high school students. Those figures in 2011 were:

9th grade 4.2% 11th grade 7.0%

10th grade 1.6% 12th grade 7.0%

More Middlesex County students have used cocaine (6.1%) than the statewide average of five percent. The seven high schools on which our 6.1% average is based are found in Graph B. In addition, about 1.5% of Middlesex County middle school students have tried cocaine at least once.

Graph B. Student lifetime use of cocaine (%)

(Middle School = blue; High School = red)
Source: Mx. County student surveys, 2010-2012

The consequences of cocaine abuse

In 2011, substance abuse treatment admissions in Connecticut included 5,551 admissions for cocaine abuse (smoked or “other route”), comprising nearly 9% of substance abuse admissions. Approximately 64% were men and 36% were women. Age at admission was evenly distributed across the life cycle (Graph C).

Graph C. Connecticut patients admitted for treatment of cocaine abuse by age, 2011 (%)
Source: Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), 2011

Admissions for treatment of cocaine abuse may indicate some inequality in healthcare access. Caucasian people were mostly likely to be treated at 50.45% of admissions; African-Americans next at 26.9% and Hispanics/Latinos least at 18.25%. A comparison of youthful use and current treatment (all ages) is found in Graph D.

Graph D. CT high school cocaine use compared w/ treatment admissions for cocaine abuse, all ages

Source: Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), 2011

Our Capacity to Address This Issue

The Latino population may be at greatest risk if rising use among young people remains coupled with a low rate of treatment. While Middlesex County is predominantly Caucasian, and statewide use among that population is trending down, the Middlesex County teen rate has not declined. CNAW members believe that we are not well-prepared to address the issue should more cocaine come into the county. They rated our capacity at 3.3.

393 Main Street, 2nd floor Middletown, CT 06457