Gerry said I exaggerated dangers of cocaine use -- consultant
ONE of the country's leading anti-cocaine campaigners has revealed the late broadcaster Gerry Ryan accused him of exaggerating the lethal dangers posed by the drug.
Dr Chris Luke, a Cork-based accident and emergency consultant, appeared numerous times on the broadcaster's 2fm radio show to warn of the catastrophic dangers posed by cocaine.
Dr Luke -- who witnessed first hand the effects of cocaine-addiction in the UK -- stressed that the drug was so dangerous that it should be nicknamed "white death".
"He (Gerry Ryan) always said he did not believe me. He felt I was exaggerating it (the dangers of cocaine)," Dr Luke said.
"But the last time I was on his show he said to me: 'Do you know what, Chris, I think you might be right.' That was a few months before he died."
Dr Luke said that, in all such cases, the consequences were tragic both for the individual involved and their families.
"His death was typical of someone who uses cocaine -- it may take a lot of celebrity deaths from cocaine before people begin to realise the dangers," he added.
In December 2007, Irish model and TV personality Katy French died after collapsing and suffering brain damage following the ingestion of cocaine.
Dr Luke pointed out that cocaine, when ingested with alcohol, creates an exceptionally dangerous compound.
"(It) can be deadly no matter if it is the first time or the one thousandth time someone uses the drug -- the quantity does not matter at all," he said.
Dr Luke said it could take years for the cocaine epidemic in Ireland to end.
"The nature of drugs such as cocaine and heroin is that they grip people," he told the Irish Independent.
"I think that after Gerry's death people who use cocaine are not going to stop. But hopefully those who don't use it will be scared into not ever taking it."
Dr Luke said cocaine epidemics last about 10 years, during which time there can be a large number of fatalities. He added that the next generation becomes scared when it sees so many people affected by the drug and normally backs away.
"I think we will be waiting for a number of years to pass before we see an end to this epidemic.
"The reality is that cocaine use is now at every level in our society -- (it) is worse than it has ever been," he said.
The consultant said A&E units often had to deal with young men and women who, in a cocaine-induced frenzy, required restraint by four or five staff and then "elephant doses" of sedatives.
Dr Luke said there was strong evidence that much of the violence being dealt with by gardai both on the streets and in homes was linked to cocaine abuse.