Cocaine use on rise among young people here as drugs trade becomes 'Uberised'
Cocaine use is on the rise among young people in Ireland as trafficking on social media, dark net markets and "call centres", where dealers deliver quickly to people who order online, are becoming part of the toxic trade.
Ireland is among five European countries with a high prevalence of cocaine use among young people.
Ireland, Denmark, Spain, France and the Netherlands have reported cocaine use among young people of more than 2.5pc.
The frightening picture emerged in the latest European Drugs Report 2019.
Seizures of the drug are at record levels, the report added.
One of the more sinister trends is the "potential Uberisation" of the drugs trade - a reference to the different ways of buying the drug, particularly using mobile technology.
There is more use of social networks, messaging apps, and communication methods that also use encryption, to peddle the drugs.
One in six of all people in Ireland receiving treatment for drug addiction are addicted to cocaine.
The purity of cocaine at street level reached its highest in a decade in 2017, while its retail price has remained stable.
In 2017, 140 tonnes of cocaine were seized in Europe - the biggest amount ever.
An increase in trafficking via shipping containers is a "major challenge".
Eight out of 10 cocaine users entering treatment in Ireland are men and the mean age of first use is 20.
Around one in four people who are in treatment in Ireland are addicted to cannabis, while 38pc are being treated for heroin addiction.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: "The report shows the complex nature of Europe's drug phenomenon.
"Drugs remain a constantly evolving, multi-faceted threat to our societies, affecting the lives of millions of citizens around the world."
Cannabis is the most seized drug and much of the cannabis resin comes from Morocco.
Most of it is seized in Spain, which is used as a hub to send drugs to the rest of Europe, the report revealed.
Cannabis use in Ireland among young adults is now at around 13.8pc, close to the European average.
Ireland has 18,988 opioid users. The most commonly used illicit opioid is heroin which may be smoked, snorted or injected.
The report also highlighted a boom in synthetic drugs.
These drugs, which mimic the effects of natural drugs such as heroin, are becoming more common.
Around 11 new synthetic opioids were discovered in Europe last year, usually in the form of powders, tablets and liquids, the report said.
It means more problems for law enforcement and customs officers.
This is because low volumes of these drugs are needed to produce many thousands of street doses, which allows them to be easily hidden and transported.
The synthetic drug MDMA is becoming more common with more non-controlled chemicals.
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