Cocaine Use in Adolescents and Young Adults

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2019 Dec;66(6):1135-1147. doi: 10.1016/j.pcl.2019.08.014.


Cocaine use by adolescents and young adults continues to be a significant public health issue and the cause of medical and psychological morbidity and mortality. Although use rates are lower than those seen with alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit substances such as marijuana, cocaine is highly addictive and presents significant acute and long-term medical and psychological effects. This article reviews the epidemiology of cocaine use among adolescents and young adults, discusses the pharmacology and neurobiology of cocaine use and dependence, provides information regarding acute intoxication and systemic effects seen with more chronic use, and describes current assessment and treatment approaches.

Keywords: Adolescents; Cocaine; Cocaine use disorder; Crack cocaine; Neurobiology; Withdrawal; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Cocaine / toxicity
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / toxicity
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Cocaine