Cocaine Still a Popular Drug of Choice

Cocaine on the mirror

Addiction and drug use is a significant health concern. Much of our attention goes to the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis is a national public health emergency, a severe and critical issue that claims tens of thousands of lives every year. And it makes sense that we would focus our attention on opioids. Opioid drugs are currently responsible for more drug-related deaths every year than all other drugs combined.

But another drug issue is looming on the horizon. If we don’t act fast, this new drug crisis could move in on the American people. It could cause as much or more trouble than the opioid crisis is creating now. We are speaking of the recent resurgence in cocaine use, along with cocaine-related crime, and cocaine addiction.

The Largest Cocaine Bust in U.S. History

A USA Today paper from June 21st, 2019 opened with this headline:

“Philadelphia Cocaine Haul is Largest in U.S. History:
35K Pounds and $1.1B”

When I saw that title, I was immediately interested in learning more. And as it turned out, there is a significant cause for concern with increasing cocaine use in the United States. That concern is painstakingly proven to us in the form of the single-largest cocaine bust in our nation’s history. And not only was this the most enormous cocaine bust, but it was also one of the largest overall drug busts in U.S. history.

The bust occurred on a shipping tanker in the port of Philadelphia. U.S. Customs and Border Protection was responsible for the bust, confiscating over 35,000 lbs of cocaine. That amounts to a little over one billion dollars worth of cocaine at current, estimated street values.

Port of Philadelphia

The drug bust created a big stir in the news. Headlines everywhere and on all the major news networks covered it. Six crew members of the tanker were arrested for conspiracy to traffic cocaine into the United States.

A U.S. attorney by the name of William McSwain is currently presiding over the prosecution. McSwain has prosecuted major drug busts before, and he is known for his vicious approach to the drug trade. In his own words (openly addressing the six ship crew members) he said that,
“You thought you could breeze to our port and leave with enough cocaine to destroy millions of lives without getting caught. You thought you were clever. You were wrong. You underestimated the city, you underestimated our law enforcement capabilities, and you underestimated our commitment to decimate the evil and immoral drug trade.”

Cocaine in the U.S. Today

One can logically extrapolate that if 35,000 lbs of a drug were being trafficked to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, there absolutely must be a demand for that type of drug. Keep in mind that 35,000 lbs of cocaine is the weight equivalent of about seven full-size pickup trucks!

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine use is still quite prevalent in the United States. That flies in the face of a common misconception that cocaine is losing popularity due to other, newer, more “exciting” drugs. But according to NIDA, “In 2014, there were an estimated 1.5 million current (past-month) cocaine users aged 12 or older (0.6 percent of the population). Adults aged 18 to 25 years have a higher rate of current cocaine use than any other age group, with 1.4 percent of young adults reporting past-month cocaine use.”

Helping Addicts Get Clean Must Be the Priority

Helping loved one - holding supposes hand

In a similar fashion as attorney William McSwain, James Carroll, the director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, also had a few passionate words to say about the drug bust. “Make no mistake, we will use every resource at our disposal to find these traffickers and once we have them in custody we will employ the fullest measure of the law possible. We also must never forget to help our fellow citizens who are struggling with addiction and need help.”

His last line is quite significant. And that’s something we must always remember. Busting drug dealers is still a priority and an essential aspect of proper law enforcement. But as long as people struggle with drug addiction in the U.S., criminals will always find a way to get drugs into the U.S.

That is why it is so important to focus on the demand side of the drug problem. We need to work in this area as much or more so than we do in the supply side. If our country continues to focus on the dealers, the criminals, the traffickers, the pushers, and so on, we’ll never resolve the drug problem.

As long as there is a demand, the supply for that demand will be offered up somehow. However, we must succeed in drastically reducing or even eliminating the need for drugs in the U.S. by helping those who are addicted to get clean. If we can do that, we will have just made the first step to drug traffickers not even bothering with the U.S. There simply won’t be demand for their narcotics here.

Helping a Loved One Get Treatment

Do you know someone who is struggling with cocaine addiction? Some of the 35,000 lbs of cocaine seized in June might have been earmarked (in a loose way) for your loved one. U.S. Customs agents will continue to do their best to confiscate cocaine trafficked into the U.S., but they won’t be able to stop it all.

However, the way you can guarantee that your addicted loved one won’t be continuously exposed to incoming cocaine is by getting your loved one into a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center. The best drug and alcohol rehabs offer sensible and engaging treatment programs that focus on the underlying reasons why people become addicted in the first place. This approach to treatment gives them a chance to rise above their addiction crisis, overcome it, and seek out life anew—totally clean and sober from drugs.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP


After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.