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HSE drug abuse helpline sees cocaine calls jump 17% in a year

The HSE’s drugs and alcohol abuse helpline saw a 17% jump in calls related to cocaine use last year.

According to a new report, total of 981 calls were received in relation to the drug, out of a total 5,412 contacts – more than were see in 2020 or 2021.

2,411 of these – over 40% of the total – were for alcohol abuse – a 9% increase from the year prior.

Calls relating to crack use have not changed considerably in recent years.

“Crack contacts average 56 per year and have been very similar in the last 4 years,” the report reads.

Notably, the HSE has distributed tens of thousands of crack pipes as part of a plan to make use of the drug more hygienic.

Contacts with the Helpline are reportedly to be “far more likely” to be about a male drug and alcohol user in “all age brackets” – particularly between the ages of 16 and 25 years.

Of calls where the caller’s relationship with the person of concern is known, 49% called the HSE on behalf of themselves. The remaining 51% were from relatives, partners or professionals working with the person.

“There were 338 contacts from or about a young persons’ substance use in 2022,” the report reads.

“As you would expect contacts from the young people are different to contacts about young people by others (usually from a parent).”

The report adds: “If a 3rd party (a parent, relative or teacher) is talking about a young persons drug use, its most likely to be about Cannabis (57%), followed by Cocaine (30%) and then Alcohol (19%).”

When a caller is ringing on behalf of a child or young adult under the age of 20, 78% of the time the relevant young person is male, and 22% of the time the person is female.

“When talking about themselves the gender mix is almost 50:50 whereas when it’s a 3rd party they are far more likely to be talking about a male (78%),” the report reads.

Calls relating to some substances did decline, however. There were fewer calls last year relating to heroin, ecstasy, methadone, codeine and benzodiazepines last year.




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