Across all age groups consultants are seeing more than 40 cocaine users every day with mental and behavioural health issues linked to their drug use. This is an increase of 66 percent in the past five years, reveals NHS Digital.
The sharpest rise was seen in people in their 40s and 50s, suggesting long-term users are now suffering from years of drug abuse.
The figure for people in their 40s has almost doubled in five years – from 1,826 admissions to 3,205.
While for people in their 50s, the number of admissions has almost trebled in the same time frame – from 601 to 1,582.
Official estimates suggest around 3.6 million people in England and Wales have tried cocaine at some time in their lives, with 987,000 having taken it in the past year.
It is thought to be the nation’s favourite illegal drug after cannabis, with more users than ecstasy, amphetamines or opiates such as heroin and methadone. Nuno Albuquerque, from drug addiction experts UKAT, said: “Cocaine is thought of as a party drug used by the younger generation.
“But these figures suggest the problem is becoming more prevalent in those aged 40 to 50.
“Global production has rocketed and its price has plummeted. This could account for the rise in this age group taking the drug. Because of its potency it can lead to mental and behavioural issues. Cocaine, in powder and crack form, is incredibly dangerous and addictive.”
David Raynes, of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: “The law enforcement response to smuggling is much more diverse but much less focused than it was 20 years ago. There is oversupply of product in the marketplace. That has social consequences. Mature users are far more likely to have the money to buy a stronger, purer product and to use it more frequently and in greater quantities for more of their lives.
“They are also more likely to have other general health comorbidities as they age, hence the greater physical and mental impact of any substance use.”