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Treatment for problem use of cocaine has tripled since 2013

Cocaine has risen from the third to second most common problem drug between 2013 and 2019.

Image: Shutterstock/DedMityay

CASES COMING FORWARD for treatment over problem cocaine use increased more than three-fold between 2013 and 2019, new data from the Health Research Board shows.  

The Health Research Board today released its annual publication on cases treated for problem drug use (excluding alcohol) in Ireland. 

The number of cases treated for problem use of cocaine increased from 708 in 2013 to 2,560 in 2019.

Cocaine has risen from the third to second most common problem drug in that seven-year period – from 7.9% of all cases in 2013 to 24% last year. 

In 2019, crack cocaine accounted for 14.3% of all cases treated for cocaine as a main problem. This is a rise from 11.3% in 2018. 

Meanwhile, the problem use of opioids and cocaine respectively decreased over this period. 

The most common drug use requiring treatment last year was opioids with 39% of cases, followed by cocaine at 24% and cannabis also at 24%. 

Nearly three-quarters of those treated were male while 26% were female.  

10,664 cases of problem drug use were treated in 2019. 37% of these were new cases while 56% were cases previously treated. 

drug statistics 2019 Statistics on problem drug use requiring treatment in 2019.

The median age of those treated last year was 31. 11% of cases treated were homeless and 16% were employed. 

Of those treated for problem cocaine use, almost one-third were in employment and 80% were male. 

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Over 67,000 cases were treated for problem drug use between 2013 and 2019.

The Minister of State with responsibility for drugs policy, Frank Feighan, said this data “clearly illuminates a worrying development” in cocaine use in Ireland. 

“I believe that addressing the drug problem in Ireland requires a multi-pronged approach; providing targeted harm-reduction and prevention initiatives in tandem with treatment services,” he said. 

Feighan yesterday apologised after claiming that public officials and people in RTÉ are “snorting cocaine all over the place”.

The comments, reported by the Sunday Independent, were made in a local radio debate during the general election campaign earlier this year.  

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