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  • Number of new drug treatment cases rises 50% in five years in Ireland

    Posted on April 5th, 2010 TimB No comments

    The number of new drug treatment cases has jumped by almost 50% in the last five years, new figures show. Data compiled and analysed by the Health Research Board (HRB) shows that the number of new cases involving people aged under 18 has also risen.

    New cases refers to people not treated for drugs before and are seen as an indirect indicator of problem drug trends.

    The report shows:

    * Total number of drug treatment cases rose from 11,235 in 2004 to 14,518 in 2008 (up 29%).

    * Number of new cases jumped from 1,858 to 2,716 (up 46%).

    * Number of new cases involving people aged under 18 rose from 336 to 374 (up 11%).

    The study calculates the average number of new cases over the five-year period in each county as a proportion of the local population.

    This shows an incidence rate of 152 per 100,000 people in Waterford, 139 per 100,000 in Wexford, 138 per 100,000 in Louth and 115 per 100,000 in Carlow.

    The lowest rates were in Leitrim (19), Mayo (25) and Monaghan (31). The rate for Dublin was 75, but there are massive differences between local health areas. The highest rates were in Dublin north central (131) and Dublin south west (98), while the lowest were in Dublin south east (25) and Dún Laoghaire (29).

    The rate in Limerick was 87 per 100,000, while the Cork rate stood at 81 per 100,000.

    Opiates, predominately heroin, were the most common main problem drug for all cases (63%), the percentage remaining stable over the last five years. However, among new cases, opiates were the main drug in 44% of cases in 2008, compared to 36% in 2004. In terms of the number of such cases, they rose from 654 to 1,166.

    Cocaine was the main problem drug in 195 cases (11% of all new cases) in 2004, rising to 462 (19%) in 2007 and dropping to 446 (17%) in 2008.

    Cannabis was the main drug in 736 cases (41% of new cases) in 2004, rising to 845 (32%) in 2008. There was mixed news in terms of risky behaviour among new cases. There was a rise in the percentage who had injected drugs, from 19% to 22%, but the percentage who had shared injecting equipment fell from 46% to 41%. The figures show a drop in the number of new cases where the person was employed, from 29% to 21%. The percentage of foreign nationals among new cases almost doubled to 5%.

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