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Recent trends show decline in cocaine consumption throughout Boston
Published On: 07-22-2015 in Category: recovery
Cocaine levels have been declining in Boston during recent times. Even more interestingly, the trend seemed to be nationwide. When the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published the 2013 National Drug Test Assessment Summary, the report seemed nothing out of the ordinary until it depicted significant declining trends of cocaine consumption.
A drop in cocaine availability first occurred in 2007 that continued into 2012. Several metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Houston and Phoenix reported “sporadic interruptions” in the availability of cocaine in early 2012. The report further stated, “According to National Seizure System (NSS) data, approximately 16,908 kilograms of cocaine were seized at the Southwest Border in 2011. During 2012, only 7,143 kilograms of cocaine were seized, a decrease of 58 percent.”
The cause of this decline in local drug markets was understood to be a sum of various factors. The report largely focused on counterdrug measures taken by the government such as large seizures and arrests of high-profile traffickers, conflict among Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) in Mexico for control of the most lucrative smuggling routes and cocaine production rates in Columbia having reasonably decreased in recent times to be the main causes.
This decline seems to have initiated a continuing trend. There were around 40 percent fewer users of cocaine in the United States in 2012 than compared to 2006. Furthermore, the number of current users aged 12 or older dropped from 2.1 million to 1.7 million from 2007 to 2012. The Monitoring The Future (MTF) survey 2014 showed an overall decrease in the use of illicit drugs to 27.2 percent compared to 34.7 percent in 1997 as well. Fewer high school students admitted to using cocaine than at any time since the 1970s.
In Boston, most cocaine incidences were seen to be decreasing and the number of non-overdose cocaine dependence and hospital stays declined by 12 percent from 2010 to 2012. The proportion of primary cocaine treatment admissions experienced a steady decline, from 9 percent in 2008 to 5 percent of total admissions in 2013. The proportion of unique-person treatment admissions citing cocaine as the primary, secondary and tertiary drug abuse also steadily decreased over time from 40 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2013. However, hospital patients submitted for unintentional cocaine overdoses increased by almost 41 percent from 2010 to 2012 (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2013).
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the figure below is a bar chart depicting the total number of overdose deaths in the U.S. involving cocaine from 2001 to 2013. The red and yellow line graphs represent the number of deaths among males and females respectively.
The government’s claim of their counterdrug measures being a major cause of declining trends and availability of cocaine was met with wariness. However, the prices for cocaine were about 74 percent lower than they were in the past three decades and just as easily available. This raised questions is if it really were a case of diminishing supply.
Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, believes this to be just a simple case of changing or evolving tastes as people move on to what’s popular at the moment.
Mark Kleiman, a UCLA professor of public policy, reaffirmed this thought process in his interview with Vice last year. “Over time, two things happen. Once everybody [is] susceptible to the suggestion of ‘Let’s try this’ has tried it, there’s a declining pool of new users. And, some of the original users have been at it long enough to develop a bad habit. So now there are fewer users to tell all their friends that ‘this is wonderful,’ and more problem users who either tell their friends or demonstrate by their behavior, that this is not wonderful,” Kleiman said.
Going further into detail, Kleiman explained how drug dealers tried to cash in on the peak in the 1970s, which caused the prices of cocaine to fall flat by 80 percent. This caused more new users to join in just because it was more accessible, but at the same time made cocaine lose its social status. This drove away a lot of users to what was the next exciting thing out there. Following this epidemic were damage-control policies, aggressive law enforcements and a rising War on Drugs that all contributed to cocaine’s declining rates.
Kleiman believes that cocaine, being as dangerous as it is, will not become an endemic, at least not at a large level. He declared alcohol to be the only high-level endemic among society.
“It was actually surprising how long this lasted, but that it was going to come to an end was quite predictable. I think cocaine now has a bad reputation that will last a generation. It will be another 30 or 50 years before we have a problem again,” Kleiman concluded.
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