Teenagers are now budgeting for cocaine along with a dress or suit for their debs, a leading addiction therapist has claimed.
Michael Guerin of addiction charity Cuan Mhuire said that ”kids going to debs are budgeting for cocaine”.
“They’re adding the cost in with the cost of their suits and dress,” said Mr Guerin. “I’ve been told this by five or six concerned parents and older siblings in rehab.
“Cocaine has become as much a part of the debs ritual as the dress, the suit, all the other trappings. It’s a very, very concerning trend.”
A recent report from the Health Research Board revealed a 50% surge in the number of people seeking treatment for cocaine — marking the largest annual increase in what has been a growing trend over the last seven years.
“That report only supports what professionals have been saying for the last two years — that cocaine is taking on a life of its own,” said Mr Guerin.
“We have clients who started using cocaine aged 13. They’re in their early 20s now, 21, 22, telling us that they took cocaine that young and it had a huge psychological effect.
“Cocaine plays havoc with your mood. And when it’s in the mix with adolescence, which is already a trying time, it can be disastrous. They become obsessed with cocaine to the cost of everything else, including their education.”
However, despite being linked with violence, the drug is now widely perceived to be “relatively harmless and fashionable”, said Mr Guerin.
“It seems to be relatively easy to access and there’s a status with it,” he said.
“Cocaine is now part of the mix with cannabis and alcohol abuse.
“A big way that youngsters get into it is that someone gives it to them for free at first, they run up a debt and then they become a distributor for them, it’s like an elaborate pyramid scheme, or like a spider web. They’re essentially recruiting children as distributors.”
Chris Luke, adjunct senior lecturer in Public Health at University College Cork, said cocaine can be “synonymous with grotesque violence”.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, if you’re working in an emergency department, the drug that is associated most commonly with extreme violence is cocaine,” said Dr Luke.