Americans Are Partying Like It’s 1999 As Cocaine Use Continues To Rise

Colombia’s cocaine production has been on the decline for years, but since 2013 the production of coca, the crop used to make the drug, has been on the rise—and according to the U.S. State Department, the drug is now flooding America’s streets.

“There are troubling early signs that cocaine use and availability is on the rise in the United States for the first time in nearly a decade,” says a new report from the State Department on the global narcotics trade. The report adds that trafficking from Colombia is at “record levels,” saying that bigger shipments are on the way.

The State Department named four reasons for the rise in coca production:

  • The rebel group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army) is strongest in the rural parts of the country where coca production is most prevalent. FARC encourages farmers to grow as much as possible due to the recent end of its war with the Colombian government. The rebel group has been engaged in conflict with those in power for decades, but in recent years, tensions have eased. The thinking behind FARC’s call for increased production is, according to the State Department, “purportedly motivated by the belief that the Colombian government’s post-peace accord investment and subsidies will focus on regions with the greatest quantities of coca.”
  • The Colombian government massively reduced eradication efforts in coca growing regions to “to lower the risk of armed conflict” while peace talks with FARC were ongoing.
  • The Colombian government ended spraying herbicides from airplanes to destroy coca plants.
  • The Colombian economy hasn’t been so hot recently, and sending in forces to manually eradicate the plant just isn’t how the government wants to be spending their money.

The report made no mention of the hit Netflix series Narcos.

These days, most of the cocaine that comes from Colombia is smuggled into America by Mexican cartels. Time will tell how Trump’s plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico will affect cocaine imports.

According to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, cocaine use by those aged 18 to 25 is up 61 percent from 2013. More than 10 percent of young adults in New Hampshire admitted to using cocaine in 2015.

The rise of cocaine coming into America means there’s also been a rise in cocaine-related overdoses. According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015 marked the highest level of cocaine-related overdoses in the United States since 2006 and the second-highest since 1999.

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