Harris: More needs to be done to raise awareness of risks of cocaine usage

The Minister for Health has said that more needs to be done to make people aware of the risks of cocaine.

The comment comes after the Chief Superintendent of the Louth division said the country was "loaded" with the drug.

Supt Mangan says the problem needs to be dealt with as a national health issue as he says it is worse than the heroin epidemic ever was.

He warned that "a generation of young people" would be lost until the problem was properly addressed.

Minister Harris says a lot more needs to be done to raise awareness among people of the risks associated with drug usage.

"So not just the idea of being on the wrong side of the law, but actually being on the wrong side of your own health, your own wellbeing and indeed being around for your family into the future," he said.

"My colleague Minister Catherine Byrne is leading an initiative in relation to this. The National Drugs Strategy now talks about taking a health-led approach to drugs, and she'll be bringing forward a number of proposals to government in the coming weeks on this."

Meanwhile, Jason Van Der Velde, an Emergency Medicine Physician with the CUH and West Cork Rapid Response, says cocaine use in Ireland has been de-stigmatised.

"Its use seems to be de-stigmatised, and certainly a drug like cocaine crosses absolutely no boundaries," he said.

"From very affluent, to very socially deprived [areas], cocaine really is affecting all levels of society."

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