1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Preliminary Results

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In 1996, an estimated 1.7 million Americans were current cocaine users. This represents 0.8 percent of the population aged 12 and older.

The number of cocaine users declined from 5.7 million in 1985 (3.0 percent of the population) to 1.4 million (0.7 percent of the population) in 1992, and has not changed significantly since then (Figure 9).

Undisplayed Graphic

There were an estimated 608,000 (0.3 percent of the population) frequent cocaine users in 1996. Frequent use, defined as use on 51 or more days during the past year, was not significantly different than in 1995, when there were an estimated 582,000 frequent cocaine users. Since this measure of frequent cocaine use was first estimated in 1985, no significant increases or decreases have been detected. It should be noted that these estimates are subject to large sampling error and potentially large nonsampling error.

The estimated number of occasional cocaine users (people who used in the past year but on fewer than 12 days) was 2.6 million in 1996, similar to what it had been in 1995. The number of users was down significantly from 1985 when it was 7.1 million.

The estimated number of current crack users was about 668,000 in 1996, and there have been no statistically significant changes since 1988.


As in the past, the rate of current cocaine use in 1996 was highest among those age 18-25 years old (2.0 percent) and age 26-34 years old (1.5 percent). Rates were 0.6 percent for youths age 12-17 years and 0.4 percent for adults aged 35 and older. The rate for young adults age 18-25 years was significantly higher in 1996 than in 1995, when it was 1.3 percent. Rates for other age groups in 1996 were similar to rates in 1995.


Rates of current cocaine use were 1.0 percent for blacks, 1.1 percent for Hispanics, and 0.8 percent for whites in 1996. There were no significant changes in rates for any racial/ethnic group between 1995 and 1996.


Men continued to have a higher rate of current cocaine use than women (1.1 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, in 1996). These rates were similar to rates in 1995.


In 1996 the rate of current cocaine use was 0.8 percent in the West region, 0.5 in the Northeast region, 1.0 percent in the South region, and 0.9 percent in the North Central.

Nonmetropolitan areas (0.4 percent) had significantly lower rates than either large metropolitan or small metropolitan areas (1.1 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively).


Current cocaine use rates remained highly correlated with educational status. Among adults age 18 and older in 1996, those who had not completed high school had a current use rate of 1.3 percent. The rate was 0.9 percent among those with just a high school education, 0.6 percent among those with some college, and 0.6 percent among college graduates.


The rate of current cocaine use was highest among the unemployed, as 2.4 percent of unemployed adults (age 18 and older) were current cocaine users in 1996, compared with only 0.9 percent of full-time employed adults and 1.1 percent of part-time employed adults. However, 73 percent of all adult current cocaine users in 1996 were employed either full or part time.

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This page was last updated on February 05, 2009.