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Tuesday 14 August 2018

Irish cocaine addicts double as hospitals hit with 4,000 overdoses

Number seeking treatment for cocaine addiction on rise
Number seeking treatment for cocaine addiction on rise

Cocaine is the main problem drug in Europe, with the number of Irish addicts seeking treatment almost doubling in just three years.

The shocking report into drug use in Europe also revealed that half of those admitted to hospital on drug-related emergencies are female.

The European drug report 2018 has revealed that of the almost 4,000 overdose cases at Irish hospitals in 2015, a third were attributed to people under the age of 25.

Psychotropic

However, more than a third of the non-fatal emergencies at acute hospitals were in relation to non-opioid analgesics, mainly paracetamol.

Psychotropic substances were presented in around a quarter of the cases and benzos in just under a fifth.

Comparing figures from between 2006 and 2015, there has also been an increase of almost 20pc in the number of people who have suffered drug-induced deaths.

Cocaine has been identified as the main problem drug across Europe, with the number of people entering drug treatment services for the first time on the up.

This is particularly the case in Ireland, where the figures have almost doubled over the course of three years.

The proportion of new treatment cases for drug treatment on cocaine was 568 people in 2016; this was only 297 in 2013.

In 2016, 11.3pc of cocaine cases reported crack cocaine as their main problem drug.

Minister for National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne said that the number of drug-related deaths was particularly worrying.

Heroin

Ms Byrne highlighted heroin as one such issue and said efforts were being made to address this.

"One public health measure to specifically address heroin-related deaths is the establishment of a pilot supervised-injecting facility in Dublin city centre in 2018," Ms Byrne said.

However, no specific date for the opening of one of these clinics has yet been identified.

Dr Mairead O'Driscoll of the Health Research Board said that discovering trends by working with other European countries is "essential if we are going to reduce the harm caused by drug use and develop approaches to support recovery effectively".

The report also gave details on drug use in Irish prisons and revealed that the medical unit at Mountjoy prison has 18 beds which are specifically allocated to an eight-week drug free programme and that between 2009 and 2016, more than 6,000 prisoners received some form of drug treatment in Irish prisons - mainly for opioid use.

Methadone treatment is available in 11 of Ireland's 14 prisons.

The in-depth report also revealed the number of seizures for the most problematic drugs in the country. Heroin had the most seizures in 2016, with 768 separate incidents.

This was followed by cocaine at 364, MDMA at 204 and cannabis at 192.

However, the quantity seized was not provided in any of these cases.

In total, more than 10,000 people were in substitutional programmes in Ireland, such as those attending methadone clinics.

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