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Government must wake up to cocaine prevalence – Crowe

30 November, 2006

Reacting to a survey in Citywide News on Cocaine in Local Communities, Sinn Féin Community Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD said, "There is an acute cocaine problem throughout this state which must be addressed."

The Dublin South West TD said, "The increase in availability and reduction in value of cocaine has ensured that its use continues to increase at a phenomenal rate. A survey in Citywide News shows that 62 per cent of Drug Projects are seeing clients with cocaine problems and half of the projects are recording an increase in cocaine use amongst their clients in the last two years.

"There is a popular misconception out there that the so-called party drug cocaine is clean and safe. However hard evidence suggests otherwise as projects have experienced a huge rise in clients experiencing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, psychotic episodes and some have even attempted suicide, with one project in North Dublin recording 4 cocaine related deaths in the last year. As a result of the lucrative cocaine market, gangland killings are on the increase with some communities under siege from drug dealers and gang feuds.

"It is a positive sign that over 90 per cent of key workers in Drug Projects have undertaken cocaine training, which is a direct product of the gravity of the extensive use of cocaine in today's Ireland. This government have consistently played down the cocaine problem and as such does not have a policy to deal with the growing crisis.

"We need to see a recognition of the cocaine problem from the government and its relevant agencies as a strategy to deal with the problem is urgently required, particularly for those people increasingly coming forward with problems in relation to cocaine addiction and finding very little help. Such a strategy cannot be provided or implemented by government until they recognise the extent of the problem.

"Poly-drug use is on the rise, with users freely mixing cocaine and alcohol amongst other substances, which can have lethal effects.

"We need to challenge the glamorisation and acceptability of drugs such as cocaine amongst all sections of our society, particularly among the younger generation. Young people, vulnerable prey to drug dealers, should be provided with alcohol and drug free places to socialise such as late opening cafés. The government should fund places akin to these to provide alternatives for young people.

"The government should also mainstream successful cocaine treatment pilot projects and provide sufficient resources as projects have reported that cocaine use is stretching current resources." Críoch

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