Huge jump in young adults requiring treatment for cocaine addiction, study finds

A report has found treatment for cocaine use among young people increased by 171 per cent between 2011 and 2019.
Huge jump in young adults requiring treatment for cocaine addiction, study finds

Olivia Kelleher

A new report from the Health Research Board, which examines substance use among young people in Ireland, has found treatment for cocaine use among young people increased by 171 per cent between 2011 and 2019.

One-in-three drinkers aged 15-24 years in Ireland has an alcohol use disorder and, despite a decrease in binge-drinking, adolescents rank seventh out of 35 In Europe for reports of being drunk.

Meanwhile, a specialist in substance abuse at the Dublin based Priory Medical Clinic has warned that Irish people have a tendency to "revel in and laugh at" our poor relationship with alcohol.

Dr Garrett McGovern told Newstalk Breakfast that there is no question that our own relationship with alcohol has an impact on our children.

Culture

"We are very permissive about alcohol in this country, it's a real problem. We've had the introduction of minimum unit pricing which will help, it'll only go part of the way.

"I think we really need to look at, overall, the culture - this is going back, I'd like to say decades, possibly going back centuries.

"Even abroad we have a bit of a reputation as big drinkers in this country, and we sort of revel in it and laugh in it."

Dr McGovern says if you look at any emergency department in this country - or reasons why people are in hospital beds -- one of the risk factors for many of those illnesses is alcohol.

"But yet our message of prevention has been completely lost".

Meanwhile, Dr McGovern says when it comes to drugs it is no longer this situation of people indulging in recreational drugs on a night out or at the weekend.

Drug use statistics

"The amount of presentations over the last couple of years - and understandably so, because people were holed up in the house - men going out to garden sheds away from their wife and kind of snorting away for the evening. It's very, very grim".

He indicates that the statistics on drug use in Ireland are only going in one direction.

"I think this has been on the increase for very many years to be honest with you. We're seeing an awful lot in frontline treatment services, a huge increase in people coming forward for treatment for cocaine dependence.

"Sometimes you're not sure whether there's an increase in actual use - or more of an increase in awareness about cocaine and its ill-effects, and the fact that there are treatment options out there.

"But I think there's no doubt that over the last number of years, probably over the last five or six years, there has been a huge increase in cocaine presenting for treatment - and particularly in young people".

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