NEW drugs are coming on the market in Cork, including crack cocaine and a substance called kratom.
Seven packages of kratom, totalling €66,000, were seized in Cork and Shannon in recent days, and gardaí and treatment services personnel say the drug is very new on the market.
And in a recent court hearing, evidence was presented that an accused man had spent large amounts of money on crack cocaine over a 12-hour period.
While gardaí say that neither substance is common on the streets, one source said that in some instances, addicts are being persuaded to buy cocaine thinking that it is crack cocaine.
The head of addictions services for Cork and Kerry, David Lane, said new substances are coming on the market in Cork, including kratom.
He said: "There are a few new things going around at the moment and kratom is one."
He said it is a challenge for groups like the HSE who are trying to give harm reduction messages to users about different substances.
Kratom is a powder derived from the leaf of a tree in parts of Asia, including Thailand and Malaysia.
According to the HSE: "At low doses it has cocaine-like stimulant effects but at higher doses it can have sedative-narcotic effects.
Chemicals in the leaves, chiefly mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, bind to the same opiate receptors as heroin & morphine. You can get it in the form of leaves, powder and resin."
The product can be bought online at a cost of between €250 and €300 per kilo.
While Mr Lane said the HSE addiction services are not seeing a lot of crack cocaine, counsellor with Cuan Mhuire treatment services, Mike Guerin, said both men and women are telling their services in Farnanes and Bruree of accessing crack cocaine in Cork city.
The Echo revealed last year that people had been treated for crack cocaine addiction in treatment centres in Cork.
Mr Guerin said: "Crack cocaine is an emerging issue in Cork city, among males and females. It goes hand in hand with heroin. Clients are telling us that heroin dealers are also selling crack."
Crack cocaine was rampant across the US in the 1980s, devastating communities and spiking crime in the affected areas.
It is in the same family as cocaine but is more potent and more addictive. It has other street names, including rock, stone or free-base.
While gardaí say that neither kratom or crack cocaine is common on the streets, one source said that in some instances, addicts are being persuaded to buy cocaine thinking that it is crack cocaine.
Late last year, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to people not to use kratom.
The body said: "FDA is concerned that kratom, which affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine, appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence."