The number of people seeking treatment for cocaine use in Ireland is on the increase, new figures have shown.
According to the latest figures from the Health Research Board (HRB), a total of 2,254 cases were treated for cocaine use in 2018, a 50% increase on 2017's figure.
The figures show that in 2012, just 666 cases were treated for cocaine use and the number of new entrants to treatment was 297. Last year, there were 1,232 new entrants to treatment.
In 2018, males accounted for 80% of all cocaine treatment cases and the average age of those in treatment was 30.
Meanwhile, the figures also show that the proportion of cases in paid employment increased from 16% in 2012 to 35% in 2018.
However, the proportion of cases that reported using more than one drug fell from 77% in 2012 to 56% in 2018.
The most commonly used additional drugs were alcohol, cannabis and benzodiazepines.
The HRB pointed out that while opiates remain the most common drug reported among cases treated for drug use (42%), cocaine (22%) is now rivalling cannabis (23%) as the second most common drug that people receive treatment for.
Commenting on the figures, HRB chief executive, Dr Darrin Morrissey, said that they show "a consistent rise in treatment for cocaine since 2013, with the biggest increases in 2017 and 2018".
"This highlights a changing pattern of drug use during the recent economic recovery," he noted.
Meanwhile, senior HRB researcher, Dr Suzi Lyons, pointed out that just over half of cases treated for problem use last year had never been in treatment before.
"The fact that people are seeking help is encouraging, particularly because many also used other drugs such as alcohol, cannabis and benzodiazepines, and mixing drugs in this way can impact on recovery and increase the risk of overdose," she said.
Other key findings from the figures include:
-Opiates, mainly heroin, was the most common main problem drug reported in 2018, accounting for 42% of all treatment cases. The number of cases increased from 4,164 in 2012 to 4,349 in 2018.
-Cannabis was the second most common main drug, making up 23% of all cases treated in 2018 (2,358). It was the most common drug among new entrants to drug treatment last year (38% of all new cases)
-The average age of people seeking treatment for any type of drug use in 2018 was 31, while the average age of new entrants was 26.
-Overall, males accounted for seven in 10 cases.
The full figures can be viewed here.
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