NEW RESEARCH into drug use in Ireland has found that the number of cases entering treatment each year for problem drug use increased by 52 per cent from 2005 to 2010.
The number of cases rose up from 5,176 to 7,878 across the six-year period.
A new report by the Health Research Board (HRB) Trends in treated problem drug use in Ireland 2005 to 2010 also found that while heroin and opiates were the most common problem drugs over each year studied, the number of cases reporting cannabis as their main problem substance increased “significantly” over the period (from 1,039 in 2005 to 1,893 in 2010).
The number of cases which reported cocaine as their main problem substance peaked in 2007 and decreased slightly in the following years, while head shop substances were reported as a main problem for the first time in 2009. This increased from 17 cases in 2009 to 213 cases in 2010, when it exceeded the numbers reporting amphetamines, ecstasy and volatile inhalants, according to the HRB report.
Meanwhile, the number of cases – both previously treated and new cases – injecting drugs decreased over the period.
Half of all new cases entering treatment over the years of the study had begun using drugs at or before 15 years of age.
The report found that the majority (68 per cent) of cases presenting for treatment over this period reported problem use of more than one substance. The drugs most often reported as additional substances were identified as cannabis, alcohol, cocaine and benzodiazepines.
The overall increase in numbers seeking drug treatment is a indication of the challenge facing those services, according to the HRB report:
The significant increase in the total number of people requiring drug treatment services is a strong indication that problem drug use remains a pressing issue throughout the country, and presents complex and multiple challenges to those providing treatment.
The report recommended further prevention measures and initiatives particularly aimed at young teenagers in an effort to delay their initiation into drug use.
It also said that an increase in harm reduction services was likely to have influenced the drop in cases injecting drugs.
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