News & Opinion | May 8, 2019 10:35 am

Uptick in Cocaine Deaths Proves Drug’s Popularity on the Rise — Again

Use of the drug jumped by more than a third between 2016 and 2017

cocaine
Cocaine use is on the rise yet again. (SSPL/ Getty)

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Long the drug of choice for hard partiers in the 1970s and ’80s, it seems cocaine has alarmingly found purchase with a new generation of users.

That’s according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows a deadly spike in cocaine deaths just this past week alone, NBC News reported. The agency said that since 2012, cocaine use has been on the rise and jumped by more than a third between 2016 and 2017.

“Certain drugs seem to go in and out of style,” Daniel Raymond, deputy director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, said. “Right now we’re seeing an uptick in cocaine use, and we’re hitting that point in the cycle where we’re starting to see more fatal overdoses.”

It seems as if a phenomenon known as “generational forgetting” may be coming into play here as well.

“Absolutely, there is a generational piece to this,” said Hans Breiter, a Northwestern University psychiatry professor and one of the world’s leading experts on how cocaine stimulates the human brain. Today’s narcotics abusers may be turning to cocaine in part “because there’s been a lot of bad press about other drugs,” Breiter told NBC. Today’s cocaine users just aren’t as afraid of the drug as they should be — likely in part because they didn’t experience it at its height several decades ago, when its effects on urban populations around the world were devastating.

“We see this kind of forgetting in politics all the time, for example,” Breiter said. “People resurrecting ideas like trickle-down economics, even though it’s been pretty much invalidated.”