Drop In U.S. Cocaine Use: Success Of War On Drugs?

It’s been awhile since we’ve run across a story about drugs that wasn’t about marijuana.

Two days ago, National Public Radio published a story about cocaine, and how its use here in the U.S. has gone down by nearly half since 2006, from 1% of the population to 0.5%. NPR says that this drop equates to Americans saying “no” to cocaine, as though 1% to 0.5% is a big deal. But with only 1% using it in the first place, a drop by half does seem to be significant.

NPR quotes a professor with the University of Maryland:

“The drug went out of vogue a long time ago. Lots of people experiment with it, but very few of the people that experiment with it in the last 20 years have gone on to become regular users of it.”

When the good professor says cocaine went “out of vogue,” we are of course talking about the 1980s, when cocaine use was big among moneyed circles in NYC (and, presumably, elsewhere). NPR references the novelist Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, in which, according to McInerney, “The ethos in fashionable Manhattan was that you worked hard all day and you stayed up and partied all night, and cocaine seemed to facilitate that kind of approach to life.”

Of course, the other thing cocaine facilitates is serious drug charges. The War on Drugs may seem to be dimming when it comes to marijuana (at least where the public seems open to ending marijuana prohibition), but remains strong on cocaine.