Search icon


26th Jun 2024

Cocaine use in Ireland up nearly 200% since 2017

Simon Kelly

Cocaine use Ireland

In contrast, usage of cannabis and opioids has decreased.

New statistics have revealed that cocaine use in Ireland has skyrocketed up nearly 200% since 2017.

According to the Health Research Board (HSB), 13,104 cases were treated for problem drug use last year, the highest annual number on record.

Last year’s figures also show an increase of more than 1,000 cases compared to 2022, and that usage is increasingly prevalent amongst females.

Cocaine was the most common drug reported for treatment, accounting for one-in-three cases followed by opioids (mainly heroin), cannabis and benzodiazepines.

Cocaine use in Ireland up nearly 200% since 2017

The findings show that usage of powder cocaine increased by 197% during the seven year timeframe, and crack cocaine increased by a staggering 594%.

More than one-in-five of powder cocaine cases were female, while for cases with crack cocaine as the main problem, nearly half were female.

Dr Anne Marie Carew, Research Officer at the HRB, said: “The rise in cocaine use is changing the landscape in terms of treatment demand in Ireland.

“Cocaine is the main problem drug for nearly half of new cases to treatment, but also one-in-three cases returning to treatment.

“This is compounded by the fact cocaine is also the second most common additional drug that people seek treatment for along with another drug.

“This points to a growing future need for treatment for cocaine.”

While a case relates to a treatment episode in the National Drug Treatment Reporting System data system and not a person, meaning the same person could be counted more than once in a year, almost four-in-ten cases had never been treated before.

The proportion of new cases reporting cannabis or opioids as their main problem drug has decreased.

Read more:

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge