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  • Major rise in addicts seeking treatment

    Posted on September 3rd, 2009 TimB No comments

    THE number of people seeking treatment for cocaine use has almost trebled in the space of five years — while almost a third more heroin users are trying to beat their addiction.

    New figures from the Health Research Board (HRB) show that 11,538 people were treated for opiate — mainly heroin — addiction in 2007, up from 8,804 five years earlier.

    However, the rise in the number of people entering programmes for cocaine abuse was even more dramatic, jumping from 954 in 2002, to 2,643 five years later.

    Most cocaine users said they took it between two and six days a week.

    Researchers identified two distinct profiles of cocaine users — social users who take it in conjunction with alcohol, ecstasy or cannabis, and users from deprived backgrounds who tend to take it with opiates.

    Dr Jean Long, head of alcohol and drug research at the HRB, said the number of cases presenting for treatments are only an indication of the extent of drug abuse in the community.

    “The rise in opiate and cocaine cases is the result of a combination of factors — an increase in the number of treatment places, an increase in reporting to the National Drug Treatment Reporting System, as well as an increased use of these drugs,” she said.

    The highest number of new cocaine cases was in the southeast, while the lowest was in the west and northwest.

    The number of cases in Dublin was lower than expected, although researchers said this was because many users in the capital reported opiate addiction as their main problem.


    Of those seeking help for opiate addiction in 2007, two-thirds were already on methadone programmes while just over 20pc were re-entering treatment.

    Just 10pc of addicts were presenting for the first time. More than half of people said they used opiates on a daily basis while the majority said they smoked it.

    “It is encouraging that people taking drugs are presenting for treatment, and studies show some promising progress among those who seek treatment,” said Dr Long.

    Meanwhile, it is understood that a new National Drugs Strategy, due to be published next week, will expand treatment places by 25pc over the next six years.

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