Data available on the extent of cocaine use and dependence: biochemistry, pharmacologic effects and global burden of disease of cocaine abusers

Curr Med Chem. 2012;19(33):5647-57. doi: 10.2174/092986712803988811.


Drug use is seen more as an individualistic behaviour and is therefore not readily conceived of from a population perspective. There is general recognition of several phases and degrees of drug abuse, from initiation and early-use patterns to long-term chronic use. Cocaine and its derivative "crack" cocaine provide an example of both the globalization of substance use and the cyclical nature of drug epidemics. Cocaine is a powerful CNS (Central Nervous System) stimulant but exerts its action in a several types of adverse health effects, including acute toxic effects (i.e. overdose, accidental injury and violence), dependence, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, bloodborne bacterial and viral infections, and mental disorders. Of interest, many people who use Cocaine will use also other drugs; therefore, ascribing adverse health effect to a certain drug might be difficult. Any mucous membrane can act as a port of entry for cocaine and the systemic effect is greatly influenced by the route and speed of administration. The effects of Cocaine mainly depend on the user's addiction, the dose received and the mode of assumption. Laws restricting the availability of cocaine saw a decrease in consumption in these countries until the 1960s. The number of cocaine users worldwide ranged from 14 million to 21 million (0.3-0.5% of the population aged 15-64 years). The largest market was North America, then western and central Europe and South America.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular System / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacokinetics
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Cocaine / pharmacokinetics
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / pathology


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Cocaine