According to the latest figures from the Health Research Board (HRB), the number of people entering treatment for crack cocaine use has increased by 400% in the last six years.

In 2014, 84 people in Ireland entered drug treatment for crack cocaine use. In 2020, that figure rose to 414.

The number of women reporting problems with the drug has also increased by 80% since 2018. Last year, 10% of male cocaine users were addicted to crack, in contrast to 30% of female users.

Commenting on the figures, Dr Ann Marie Carew said: “In general, those seeking treatment for powdered cocaine use are male, aged 30, in paid employment and most likely to use alcohol as an additional drug. Crack cocaine cases, however, are more likely to be unemployed and homeless. Monitoring these trends is critical for developing tailored approaches to drug treatment.”

Crack has become particularly common in more deprived areas, such as Ballymun in north Dublin. The Dublin City Council recently reported a “surge” in the use of the drug across the area.

Crack cocaine isn’t the only drug causing problems for the city. Intravenous drugs, such as heroin, are also rife across Dublin.

According to the Ana Liffey drug treatment centre, an estimated 400 people per month are injecting heroin on Dublin’s streets.

Opioids, mainly heroin, remain the most common problem drug for those seeking drug treatment. They accounted for 37% of all cases in 2020.

Over the past year, Dublin Fire Brigade paramedics attended 1,089 drug-related incidents in the city centre, with 109 of those happening last month.

Plans for a drug facility in Dublin were set aside last month, due to failure to properly engage with objections from a nearby school. If allowed to open, the facility would enable intravenous drugs to be consumed under medical supervision, which might lessen the risk of drug users dying from overdoses.

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