"Approximately 21.5 million people are estimated to have used cocaine at least once in the past year in 2020,c representing 0.4 per cent of the global population aged 15–64. The estimated prevalence of use has increased slightly since 2010, but the number of people who use cocaine has increased more, by 32 per cent, owing to global population growth. The trends have to be interpreted with caution, owing to the wide uncertainty intervals of these estimates.

"All indicators suggest a long-term overall increase in cocaine use over the past decade, but information about trends in 2020 is inconclusive. Only fourteen countries provided new survey data on cocaine use, out of them eight for 2020, a year when methodological adjustments, particularly for face-to-face surveys, may have affected data collection and undermined comparability with earlier data.

"In the European Union, surveys among people who use drugs occasionally suggest decreases in the use of powder cocaine,37 but not of 'crack' cocaine.38 It is likely that occasional cocaine use, often linked to recreational activities, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social-distancing measures. However, regular use and use among people with substance dependence may have remained less affected by these factors.39 More detailed data suggest that decreases in use among occasional users may have been short-lived.

"Alternative sources of information, albeit each with its own limitations, confirm the trend observed in global estimates concerning people who use cocaine. Qualitative reporting on cocaine trends provided by national experts, even in countries without population surveys, suggests an increasing trend in cocaine use over the past decade, with a halt between 2019 and 2020. This data source is limited by a lack of scientific rigor in some cases, but its advantage is that, in countries where quantitative assessments are not in place, expert reporting is able to rely on a variety of information sources, including small-scale studies."


UNODC, World Drug Report 2022 (United Nations publication, 2022).