Cocaine use in Ireland reaches an all-time high

Cocaine use in Ireland reaches an all-time high

Figures from the Health Research Board (HRB) have found that cocaine is now the most common problem drug in Ireland with a 259% increase in the number of cases between 2016 and 2022, accounting for around 30% of drug treatment programmes.

The same study also found that demand for cocaine use treatment soared within the 20-34 age group. Currently, 26.4% of Irish adults aged 15 and above have admitted to using an illegal drug in their lifetime.

In 2022 alone, HRB found that there were over 12,000 drug treatment cases in Ireland, which was the highest annual figure to date. Half of all individuals entering treatment for powder cocaine were below the age of 30 and 40% were employed. For crack cocaine, fewer than 10% were employed and half of all individuals entering treatment were below the age of 39.

The number of individuals receiving treatment for drug use, who are also in paid employment, doubled from 2016 to 2022.

Cocaine is also the most common drug among new drug users and cocaine-related deaths have more than doubled between 2017-2020.

The signs of substance misuse

Experts are now calling this a cocaine epidemic in Ireland and are referring to it as a public health crisis, affecting everyone from students to professionals.

As a leading drug and alcohol testing laboratory, we understand all too well the impact that substance misuse can have on people’s day-to-day lives, and these rising drug use statistics highlight a growing problem in Ireland.

For this reason, it is important that people can spot the signs of substance misuse, to get a friend, colleague, or family member the help they need.

The most common signs of a person misusing drugs include:

  • Changes in physical appearance such as sudden weight loss or gain, or a lack of personal hygiene
  • Changes in behaviour including wanting more privacy
  • Difficulties at work including declining performance and attendance
  • A lack of energy
  • Defensive behaviour when asked about substance use
  • Changes in appetite
  • Spending more money than usual or asking to borrow more money

Where can I buy a drug test?

AlphaBiolabs is one of Ireland’s leading providers of laboratory testing services for members of the public, the legal profession, and businesses.

Our ISO 17025-accredited laboratory can test a variety of samples for the presence of drugs and their metabolites, including urine, oral fluid, hair, and nails.

Here are a few examples of who might need a drug test:

To discuss your drug testing requirements or to request a quote, call our Customer Services team on 01 402 9466 or email

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