There is a ‘surge’ of global cocaine use, experts blame this

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There is a major “surge” in the demand for cocaine across the planet as many new global markets are developing for the narcotic, according to the United Nations 2023 World Drug Report.

The newly released data found that a million more people had used coke in 2021 as opposed to 2020 (22M vs. 21M).

Cultivation of the coca bush — the drug’s base ingredient — has also shot up from 234,200 hectares to 315,000 in that same time period.

“The world is currently experiencing a prolonged surge in both supply and demand of cocaine, which is now being felt across the globe and is likely to spur the development of new markets beyond the traditional confines,” according to the report.

The Americas along with both western and central Europe plus a “very high prevalence also in Australia” are still where the drug is, however Asia, Africa, and Southeastern Europe are currently emerging as places for cocaine to sell in high demand.


Cocaine's presence is skyrocketing around the world. This is why.
Cocaine’s presence is skyrocketing around the world.
dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Production of cocaine has seen a steady increase since 2015.

“The criminal actors involved, including both groups at source and those orchestrating trafficking to destination markets, have diversified in line with the dynamics of competition, specialization and collaboration, ultimately leading to more efficient supply chains,” the report added. 


Increasing global markets are leading to a surge in cocaine.
Increasing global markets are leading to a surge in cocaine.
RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Though, it was also reported that law enforcement seizures of the drug “have also grown significantly” as over 2,026 tons of coke had been seized in 2021.

“In the long term, the growth in seizures has outpaced that in production, and therefore to a certain extent contained the net supply available for consumption.” 

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