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15 Facts and Statistics on Cocaine Use in Canada

Cocaine, also known by its street name “coke,” is one of the most notorious substances that lead to drug addiction. This article lists down 15 of the most critical facts and figures about cocaine use in Canada. 

Keep on reading to learn more.

1. Cocaine Is Made from a South American Plant

Cocaine is an illicit drug made from coca leaves (Erythroxylum coca), a tropical shrub indigenous to South America. A part of the rich culture of the Andean nation, coca is widely cultivated and consumed as herbal medicine, a sacred element in spiritual rituals, and as energy sustenance for the working class. While it’s common to see them brew and enjoy it like a slightly indulgent cup of chamomile tea, the coca leaf is classified as illegal as cocaine in Canada and other parts of the world.

Coca plant from Peru

2. It’s a Potent Drug That Can Cause Overstimulation 

Stimulants are a classification of drugs that speed up the communication between the brain and the body. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that spikes a person’s energy levels, confidence, alertness. Abusing cocaine can cause overstimulation, potentially leading to aggression, anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, or seizures.

3. Cocaine use in Canada is Second Highest in the World

The Global Drug Survey 2019, led by Dr. Adam Winstock, reveals that Canada ranks second worldwide for cocaine use, next to Scotland. Data was collected from 130,000 people in 23 countries globally and surveyed 1,960 Canadians about how many days they used cocaine in the last 12 months. The results showed that Canada has the second-highest median number of 10 days compared to the global average of six days a year.

4. It’s Sold Cheap in Canada 

The low price point can be considered as one of the primary drivers of cocaine use in Canada. Despite being categorically known as the most expensive illicit substance across the world, cocaine only costs $85 per gram in the country compared to the global average of $120. 

5. Cocaine Is a Schedule I Drug  

Cocaine use in Canada is illegal, and it’s, in fact, a Schedule I drug under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This means that mere possession of this illicit substance can cause you seven (7) years of jail time while trafficking or manufacturing it can lead to life imprisonment.

6. Cocaine Is the Second Most Commonly Detected Illegal Drug in Canadian Drivers 

The 2018 Roadside Survey conducted in five selected communities in British Columbia (Vancouver, Abbotsford, Prince George, Kelowna, and Saanich) detected stimulants, such as cocaine and amphetamine, in 36.1% of drivers who tested positive for using the drugs, with cannabis or marijuana topping the list. The vehicles were randomly stopped, and data were collected using oral fluid samples analyzed using the enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) technology.

Additionally, a five-year cross-sectional telephone survey done from 2002 to 2008 involving Ontario adults illustrated that self-reported collisions were significantly more prevalent among individuals who admitted to cocaine use in Canada.

Hands holding the steering wheel while driving

7. Driving Under the Influence of Cocaine Can Result in Imprisonment 

Driving under the influence of cocaine and refusing to undergo mandatory drug tests required by police officers is considered a grave criminal offence. According to the Criminal Code of Canada, these offences call for similar penalties as those caught for alcohol impairment, ranging from a mandatory minimum fine of $1000 to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

8. Cocaine Comes in Two Forms: Powder and Crack 

As the name implies, powder cocaine is a white, fine powder called hydrochloride salt in the scientific community. Street dealers are known to dupe buyers by mixing powder cocaine with cornstarch, sugar, or talc. In some cases, it’s also mixed with other addictive substances, including amphetamines and synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, which lead to fatal drug overdoses. 

On the other hand, crack is a free base form of cocaine that has been treated with bicarbonate soda and water to form solid white rocks. The two are pharmacologically similar, meaning they contain the same chemical composition and produce the same effects but are taken differently. Powder cocaine is abused through snorting, swallowing, or injecting intravenously while crack is smoked.  

9. Cocaine Ranks Third Among Most Commonly Abused Drugs by Canadians 

According to data collected from the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS), cocaine was the third most used substance after alcohol and cannabis aside from tobacco for individuals older than 19.  On the contrary, younger Canadians (15 to 19 years old) were more likely to abuse salvia, hallucinogens (LSD and DMT), and prescription drugs than cocaine.

10. Cocaine Use in Canada Was Linked to 1,572 Hospitalizations 

In 2014, 1,572 hospital stays in Canada were attributed wholly (i.e. cocaine poisoning or overdose) or partially (i.e. HIV) to cocaine addiction. This figure represents 0.6% of all substance abuse-related hospitalizations in Canada (except Quebec), amounting to $80 million in healthcare costs. 

11. $300 Million Lost of Productivity Cost Due to Cocaine Addiction

Substance use disorder is a major contributing factor to the loss of productivity. For instance, cocaine addiction was linked to at least 297 premature deaths and 883 Canadians losing their jobs in 2014, amounting to a whopping $300 million.

12. Cocaine Heightens One’s Risk for HIV Infection 

Studies reveal that cocaine use accelerates HIV infection by damaging immune cell function and promoting the spread of the HIV virus. Research also suggests that individuals with HIV and cocaine addiction are also more vulnerable to contracting other disease-causing viruses, such as hepatitis C, a virus that impairs healthy liver function.

13. Cocaine Was The First Local Anesthetic 

Modern-day anesthesia is a byproduct of cocaine.  After hearing it from Sigmund Freud, Carl Koller, an ophthalmologist from Vienna, Austria, first used it in 1884. Koller performed a surgical operation by putting cocaine solution in the cornea, producing insensibility.

14. Sigmund Freud Stopped Advocating Cocaine’s Medical Benefits Due to Side Effects  

Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud was one of the earliest advocates of cocaine use in the 1880s, but stopped immediately after his friend, Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, developed a cocaine addiction. 

15. 28% of Canadians Seek Addiction Treatment Due to Cocaine 

Data from the National Treatment Indicators report reveals that at least 28.1% of treatment in 2014 to 2015 was attributed to cocaine use in Canada. It’s the third most commonly reported reason people in Ontario sought treatment.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment by Freedom 

In response to problematic cocaine use in Canada, Freedom From Addiction offers an intensive evidence-based and individualized approach to treating specific substance use disorders. Our Cocaine Addiction Treatment Program includes:

For more information about our drug addiction treatments, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. A member of our team will get back to you shortly. Contact us today!


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