I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 301 together.
The most recently published data on drug prevalence show that current use of cocaine (including crack) has remained stable at 0.5 per cent for the past three national surveys (2006/2007, 2010/2011 and 2014/2015).
The HSE is responsible for the provision of addiction services, including treatment. The Health Research Board bulletin ‘Drug Treatment in Ireland 2010 – 2016’, reports that cocaine is the third most common main problem drug. Since 2014, there has been a steady increase in the proportion of new cases for treatment reporting cocaine as a main problem drug in Ireland, rising from a low of 297 cases in 2013 to 568 cases in 2016. In 2016, 11.3% (112) of cocaine cases reported crack as their main problem drug an increase from 9.1% (81) in 2010.
Strengthening early harm reduction responses to current and emerging trends of drug use, including cocaine and crack cocaine, is a key theme in the national drugs strategy, ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’. In July 2018, I launched the national cocaine harm reduction campaign, which is a collaboration between the HSE and the Ana Liffey Drugs Project.
The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the dangers of taking cocaine (both powder and crack). This campaign will communicate the risks and dangers of cocaine use to dependent users and at-risk groups, as well as to those who engage in ‘recreational use’. It is important to get the message out to the public about the risks associated with drugs like crack cocaine and highlight how these risks are hugely increased when combined with alcohol.