An internationally-known addiction counsellor has urged parents to start testing their own kids for drugs and checking any new plants appearing in their bedrooms.
Marie Byrne says drug-taking is now considered the norm among young people and warned parents to take responsibility and 'stop waiting for everyone else to fix it'.
The counsellor from Navan, Co. Meath, who has advised on the Australian group Parent to Parent in Australia as well as drug policy review committees there says she has never seen the drug situation so bad in Ireland in all of her 30 years working in the field.
She says cannabis is now inaccurately considered 'harmless' and the use of ketamine - a powerful horse tranquiliser and anaesthetic - and cocaine are the now prevalent drugs of choice.
She also attributes many of the young suicides now plaguing the country to the use of drugs and alcohol.
Marie, who ran the Aisling Group International Drug Prevention Service for three decades has just published her new book, The Angel in the Marble, to give families a strategy of recognising problems and advice on early intervention and recovery
"The use of ketamine as a mix in the drug world is horrifying these days. Some young people actually get a fright when they lose the feeling of their legs but ketamine is used as an anaesthetic so why are they surprised and why are they putting their lives at risk," she asks.
"Ketamine as a party drug has been around years but it's quite surprising in how it's moved into such sudden popularity with its related risk of death when used this way.
"All this talk about legalising drugs, young people are really buying into it. All you hear is 'I'm young, it's fun and I don't know anyone who has been badly affected by drugs.
"In Colorado in the US where Marijuana was legalised, experts are trying to get it repealed but it's a multi-billion dollar industry now for the government so who's going to agree to that?
"Kids heads are melted with cocaine these days. It's never been as bad. Kids are throwing caution to the wind and using it as instant gratification without consequences.
"Alcohol mixed with cocaine creates another chemical in the liver which can cause sudden death. Cannabis is a psychoactive mood-altering drug which causes changes to the brain similar to schizophrenia but why is no-one heralding this when we're highlighting mental illness?
"Younger kids see cannabis as nothing now which is dangerous. I absolutely 100% attribute many young suicides and depression to taking cannabis and other drugs.
"Their brain is muddied and they feel totally helpless. They may or may not have had problems before this but taking drugs just multiplies them.
"Others get so cocky and aggressive, all they want is a fight.
"I've worked with so many young kids over the years, I've witnessed so many deaths due to overdoses. I've advised Governments in Australia and worked with Governments in Scandanavia - Ireland is just not getting serious about this.
"Parents have the power to change this."
Marie says teenagers are now growing and cultivating their own cannabis plants in their bedrooms under their parent's noses.
"I've seen this. Parents have to be so pro-active now like never before. Watch out for changes in their children's personalities for early intervention.
"Check the bedrooms - why is there a new plant there? Get a drug testing kit and tell them you're gonna test them. Tell them you love them too much to lose them to drugs.
"Don't be waiting for everyone else to come into your house and fix it - get out and do something yourself. Get information, support and professional advice to give you the skillset to protect your children," she concluded