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Drug doctor warns of 'worrying trend' as cocaine use triples

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Cocaine use is on the rise

Cocaine use is on the rise

Cocaine use is on the rise

The demand for cocaine add- iction treatment has soared, and for the first time has overtaken cannabis as the most common drug that users are trying to kick.

A new report revealed yesterday that 2,560 cases were treated for problem cocaine use in 2019, more than three times the number in 2013.

The number of cases treated for crack cocaine is also increasing, with 367 people reporting it as a main problem drug last year, up from 255 in 2018.

Men have made up eight in 10 cocaine cases each year since 2013, the Health Research Board (HRB) revealed.

Three in 10 cocaine addicts were in paid employment last year, an increase from two in 10 six years earlier.

The report found that mixing drugs among cocaine users fell from four in five cases in 2013 to three in five last year.

The drugs most commonly taken with cocaine are alcohol, followed by cannabis and benzodiazepines.

The report said cases may involve more than one episode of treatment by the same person.

Consistent

"The figures illustrate the level of cocaine use in Irish society," said HRB interim chief executive Dr Mairead O'Driscoll.

"The consistent rise in demand for cocaine treatment, coupled with an increase in cases in paid employment and a decrease in proportion of cases mixing drugs, reflects clear changes in patterns of drug use."

Commenting on the latest figures from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System, Dr Anne Marie Carew, research officer at the HRB, added: "In general, those seeking treatment for cocaine are male, 30 years of age, in paid employment and most likely to use alcohol as an additional drug.

"However, a rise in reporting of crack cocaine is a worrying trend, where cases with chronic problem drug use mix crack cocaine with opioids.

"These cases are more likely to be unemployed and homeless. It is important that this distinction is noted in order to monitor trends and tailor treatments accordingly.

"Polydrug use, or using more than one drug, remains a problem for more than half of cases presenting for treatment."