DRUGS minister John Curran said gardaí need to target the growing trend of people being supplied cocaine by family members or friends.
Mr Curran said he was concerned at a new survey that showed half of people who had taken cocaine had been given the drug by family or friends.
This was a massive hike on a similar survey five years ago, which showed a third of people got their cocaine this way.
Findings from the national drug prevalence survey found that this rise was even greater among females, with a three-fold jump (from 24% to 70%).
“One area I’m concerned about and will be addressing with the Gardaí — this issue of people finding it fairly easy to access cocaine, it was family and friends. I think that issue needs to be dealt with from an enforcement point of view.”
He said while gardaí had traditionally targeted trafficking — and have been very successful — he felt that they could concentrate more on this emerging problem.
In addition to the 49% of respondents who said they were given cocaine by friends and family, a further 33% bought cocaine from a friend, with another 9% saying they shared the cocaine with friends.
In total, some nine out of 10 got their cocaine in some way through friends or family.
The report published yesterday gave new details on cocaine use taken from a survey published earlier this year. The survey, conducted in 2006-2007, was commissioned by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs. It was a follow-up to a survey conducted in 2002-2003.
Committee director Mairéad Lyons said while the first part of the survey earlier this year had shown a rise in lifetime, recent and current cocaine use, the data highlighted the rise in consumption among current users.
She said while the majority (68%) of users took it less than once a week, a quarter took it at least once a week (a jump from 17% in 2003). In addition, 7% said they were taking it daily (compared with zero in 2003).
Ms Lyons said lifetime use of cocaine was high among all social classes — but was highest in the A social class (upper middle class). But it differed for regular use.
“When it came to last-year use, which is recent use, we had a higher than expected prevalence in the lower middle class, working class area.
“It’s the first time we have solid information to support a solid perception across communities that some communities are being disproportionately affected by cocaine.”
Committee chairman Dr Des Corrigan said that 23% of those surveyed said they personally knew someone who took cocaine, compared with 14% in 2003.
He said this reflected “the spread of cocaine use”.
* See www.nacd.ie
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