Cocaine Use on the Rise Again

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports overdose-related deaths from cocaine is second only to opioids. However, cocaine’s toll on the general public receives little attention. This is largely due to the lack of remedies for the person addicted to the drug. Unlike opioids, there is no naloxone (narcan), a medication designed to rapidly reverse an overdose, or methadone or suboxone, which help people stop using heroin. For those suffering from a cocaine-fueled substance-use disorder, current options include behavioral therapies and experimental, incentive-based, therapy called contingency management.


Cocaine and the American workforce

Cocaine, classified as a Schedule II drug, is a powerfully addictive substance with a high potential for abuse, potentially leading to severe psychological dependence. Cocaine provides users with a stimulating and energetic high with burst of energy followed by significant crashes in energy levels. According to research from NIDA, adults between the ages of 18-25 years old (approximately 1.2 million people) have a higher rate of cocaine use than any other age group. Employers should be concerned because this age range represents a large portion of new-to-the-workforce employees.



According to the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) the positivity rate in urine testing for cocaine has increased for four straight years in the general U.S. workforce. In the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce, cocaine use has increased for two consecutive years. Drug tests indicating cocaine use increased 12% in 2016, reaching a seven-year high in the general U.S. workforce, and 7% among federally mandated, safety-sensitive workers.

DTI statistics reveal the ongoing threat to workplace safety posed by substance abuse. While most drug related dialogue addresses marijuana and opiate issues, cocaine, a substance with well-established dangers, continues its upward trends in use in the workforce.


To learn more about creating, implementing and managing a substance free workplace, contact us today!