With cocaine use growing faster in Ireland than anywhere else in the developing world, Fine Gael Seanad Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Spokesman Senator Jerry Buttimer has called for a nationwide campaign to highlight the lethal dangers of using the drug.
Speaking during a Seanad debate on the National Drugs Strategy, Senator Buttimer said the quantity of cocaine seized has grown by 1,500% since 2002 while the number of cocaine-related offences has increased four fold.
“Ireland has the highest increase in cocaine consumption in the developing world, according to a recent United Nations report. Cocaine use in Ireland has already reached alarming levels and the problem is still getting worse. We have to send out a powerful message that cocaine is not a clean drug and that its use has very serious consequences. We need a strong advertising campaign using graphic images to shock and educate people about the dangers of drugs, specifically cocaine.
“Wrongly considered by many to be a clean recreational drug of choice, cocaine is causing untold hardship and misery across the country. Young adults, many of them professionals, have particularly taken to this drug without realising its consequences. Medical research has warned that cocaine affects the simple processing of information, attention and concentration, and the social and emotional ability of those who use it. Cocaine is also places a significant financial burden on users and can introduce users to a life of crime.
“The recent massive haul of cocaine off the Cork coast demonstrates the scale of the drug smuggling operation into Ireland. Yet drug treatment services have been scandalously neglected under the last ten years of Fianna Fáil Government. Although cocaine is the fastest growing drug in the country, most treatment programmes are not designed for cocaine users.
“The most effective way to stamp out the illegal drugs trade is to cut off the demand. That is why I believe a nationwide campaign to highlight the lethal nature of this drug and its effects is so urgent.”