Superintendent Michael Comyns, who heads up the serious crime unit in Cork city, is urging people not to take the drug, which is becoming more and more prevalent in urban and rural areas.
He said: “The attitude people have towards cocaine is alarming. They seem to think it is OK to take it on a night out.
“There are so many consequences of taking cocaine.
“There is the cocaine market and the profits of dealers, the drug feuds, and the person’s own health — and the way people act when they are on cocaine.
“Cocaine does cause aggression. We have had a lot of serious violent incidents in Cork city in the last six months. Without a doubt, some of them are linked to cocaine.
“What needs to change is the attitude to cocaine.”
Supt Comyns cited one incident in which a group of sports players were on a trip. One of the group was given the responsibility of purchasing cocaine, as all but one of them wished to take cocaine during the trip.
Supt Comyns said people need to stop describing cocaine as a “recreational drug”.
“I have a big problem with the phrase,” said Supt Comyns.
“What exactly does it mean? Under what circumstances is it recreational? Cocaine is not recreational — it is an illegal drug. When people take it, they are fuelling the crime gangs.”
Supt Comyns said the amount of cocaine which is now readily available in Cork is alarming.
The use of cocaine powder in Cork has been increasing in recent years following the end of the recession.
In recent months, gardaí from the Cork North roads policing unit highlighted that cannabis and cocaine are the most common drugs detected in cases of drug driving. This was echoed by research conducted by the Road Safety Authority, the Health Research Board, and the Medical Bureau of Road Safety.
Research of drivers who tested positive for drugs in roadside testing for intoxicants revealed that 37% of drivers tested for drugs at a roadside drug test between April 2017 and July 2019 tested positive for cocaine.
More than 2,200 people have presented for cocaine treatment in Ireland in the past 12 months, according to the Health Research Board.