700% rise in cocaine users seeking initial treatment

THERE has been a 700% rise in the number of cocaine users seeking treatment for the first time, official figures have shown.

They also show the number of new heroin cases outside Dublin has doubled between 2001 and 2006.

Publishing the data, the Health Research Board, also pointed to a sharp rise in the number of people treated for multiple drug use (polydrug use), with alcohol the most common additional drug taken.

In a report on treated problem drug use, the board said the number of new cases rose by 10%, from 2,030 in 2001 to 2,228 in 2006. This included:

* A significant jump (695%) in new cocaine cases, from 43 to 342.

* A levelling-off in new opiate (mainly heroin) cases, from 901 to 912.

* A slight rise (4%) in cannabis cases, from 781 to 809.

* A sharp drop (70%) in new ecstasy cases, from 197 to 65.

Dr Jean Long, head of the board’s alcohol and drug research unit, said the relatively small increase in new cases nationally masked “stark trends” in many HSE areas.

The report said heroin remained the main problem drug reported by new cases in Dublin, in spite of a 31% drop in such cases.

“This indicates that the heroin epidemic has abated in this area,” said Dr Long. She said this contrasted with the situation outside Dublin. “There was a 96% increase in the number of new opiate cases entering treatment outside Dublin, from 226 in 2001 to 442 in 2006.”

She said the rise in foreigners seeking treatment pointed to the need for multilingual skills at treatment centres.


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