Skip to main content
Technology & ScienceHealth

Cocaine Use Disorder

As of 2019, an estimated 20 million people used cocaine worldwide which also saw the highest level of cocaine ever manufactured (approximately 1784 tons expressed as 100% purity), doubling from 2014. Professor Kim Wolff has recently co-written a report in the BMJ Best Practice on cocaine use disorder.

Cocaine use disorder is defined as the presence of psychological symptoms (paranoia, hallucination), physical symptoms (less sleep, twitching, increased/abnormal heart rate), behavioural symptoms (more energy, erratic behaviour, violence) and/or mood symptoms (e.g anxiety, irritation). Each case can be classified be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number of symptoms within 12 months. Chronic cocaine usage can scar heart tissue and cause myocardial remodelling which increase the chance of lethal arrhythmias.

Though the majority of people who use cocaine don’t have a disorder, the Global Burden of Disease Study found that cocaine use disorder increased from 4.2 million people in 1990 to 5.8 million in 2016. Currently, treatment options are limited to counselling as antipsychotic agents are linked to QT interval prolongation (the prolongation of time between the heart contracting and relaxing) and sudden death if the user is also taking cocaine.

Learn more about cocaine use disorder by reading the full report, which can found under 'Project website' (to the right).