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'The cocaine trade is booming': 54% of Irish people who use cocaine want to cut down

Over one quarter of cannabis users in Ireland reported almost daily use, which the report said was “suggestive of dependent use”.

Image: Shutterstock/DedMityay

A SELF-FUNDED SURVEY of illegal drug use in countries across the world has found that 54% of Irish respondents who use cocaine want to use less of the substance next year, and of this number 14% want help to do so.

This compares to a global average of 41.5% and 12.7% respectively.

Of the 3,363 people in Ireland who took part in the survey, 38.3% had reported using cocaine in the last 12 months.

Organisers of the Global Drug Survey have stressed that their research does not represent feedback from the general population of any country as participation is voluntary. 

As such, the authors say, the results may show limitations with respect to “response bias”. 

“It is more likely that individuals will respond to surveys if they see topics or items that are of interest to them, and thus by definition will differ from those who do not participate.”

On the international front, cocaine remains the most expensive commonly used drug in the world: the profit on a gram of cocaine from production in Colombia to point of sale in the EU is over 30,000%.

The report says: “The cocaine trade in 2019 is booming. While cocaine use can lead to dependence and numerous health harms including death, the cost of the failed international drug control system and the national policies that implement it are far greater.”

The Global Drug Survey (GDS2019) asked over 123,000 people from over 35 countries across Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand questions about their drug-taking habits and compiled a comprehensive report on the subject.

The self-funded study that aims to inform health policies for the benefit of people who use drugs and the wider community, it states.

Our work is increasingly recognised as a legitimate data source to better understand drug use and its impact on health around the world.

Of the total participants, 98.4% were white and 82.1% were in paid employment. The mean age of Irish respondents was 35, compared to the global mean of 29.4.

Although mostly focused on illegal drugs, it also includes questions on alcohol and tobacco: this year’s study found that half of all drinkers in India, Finland and Ireland wanted to drink less.

What’s noteworthy about the study?

As part of GDS2019, the first ever international evaluation of cannabis labels was carried out, which warns of the side effects related to the use of THC-containing cannabis.

GDS2019 adapted four health messages developed by the Canadian government and added two messages on side effects based on common reasons that prompted people to quit: effects on memory and motivation.

Cannabis labels Source: GDS2019

The survey asked 55,000 people who had used cannabis in the last year whether they believed the warnings and whether they were more likely to smoke less as a result.

By and large, across all ages and genders, the respondents believed the advertisements, but most said that the information wasn’t new and they weren’t less likely to smoke as a result of it.

The majority of respondents said they would also be happy to see these messages on legally purchased cannabis products (58.9%).
58.6% of Irish respondents reported ever having used cannabis. Over one quarter of cannabis users in Ireland reported almost daily use, which the report said was “suggestive of dependent use”. 78.7% reported mixing cannabis with tobacco. 

In response to a question posed to recent drug users (the past 12 months) on whether they have encountered police in relation to their drug use in the last 12 months, 18.7% of Irish respondents said they had.

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