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Fitness & Health

17th Jul 2018

HSE release tips on how users can reduce harms of cocaine and crack

Carl Kinsella


Ireland ranks fourth highest in the European Union for use of cocaine among young adults.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has published a list of advice for how users can reduce the harms of cocaine or crack cocaine should they use the drugs.

United Nations data has also previously suggested that Ireland features in the top ten countries for per-capita usage of the drug.

The advice is prefaced by the suggestion: “While it is always safest not to take unknown or illicit drugs at all, if a person chooses to take cocaine they are urged to follow the following harm-reduction advice.”

“If you decide to use cocaine, remember:

  1. When buying, know your source and avoid using alone
  2. Use one drug at a time and never mix with alcohol
  3. Start with a small test dose and leave at least 2 hours between use
  4. Grind cocaine to remove clumps, use your own sterile straw and never share
  5. Carry a condom – cocaine can increase your sex drive

“If you decide to use crack, remember:

  1.  Avoid using homemade crack pipes and don’t share your pipe.
  2. Avoid smoking the full rock.
  3. If injecting, start low and go slow to avoid overdose.
  4. If you feel low after using, seek professional help.
  5. If you or a friend feels suicidal immediately go to a hospital or call 112.”

Crucially, the information notes that 93% of all deaths that involve cocaine also involve alcohol or another drug.

The advice is part of the #DoYouUseCocaine programme, which was launched today by Minister of State for Health Promotion & the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne.

Byrne said: “This is a very important campaign, focusing on providing information and raising awareness about cocaine among drug users and health professionals.

“Recent figures which show an increase in those seeking treatment for cocaine use is of real concern. This evidence supports what we are hearing from some services on the ground that cocaine use, and in particular crack cocaine use, is on the rise.”

“I therefore welcome this new campaign which I believe will play a vital role in communicating the risks and dangers of cocaine use to dependent users and at risk groups, as well as to those who engage in recreational use.”

Cocaine is a Class A drug in Ireland, and being caught with cocaine either for personal use, or intent to sell, can result in jail time.

The HSE’s full statement regarding cocaine harm reduction can be found here.

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