WASHINGTON — The number of Americans using cocaine jumped from 4.2 million to 5.8 million between 1982 and 1985, according to a government survey released today.
Dr. Otis R. Bowen, secretary of health and human services, said those figures and other findings in the survey "confirm once again that high historic levels of illicit drug use persist in the United States."
But the survey found abuse of most other drugs either leveled off or dropped from 1982, while a companion survey found the public more alarmed than ever about the menace of drugs.
The 1985 survey found a sharp increase in the number of people who had used cocaine during the month before the survey--from 4.2 million three years earlier to 5.8 million, an increase of 38%.
Dr. Ian Macdonald, administrator of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, said the survey also found that the number of people responding that they had used cocaine in the last 12 months did not show the same dramatic increase. That figure rose from 11.9 million to 12.2 million.
"We believe these numbers are best explained by saying that cocaine is a very reinforcing drug and in this fairly stable pool of users, the number who increase their frequency of use is rising," he said.