Survey: Irish teens are among top cocaine users in EU
IRISH schoolchildren are among the highest cocaine and cannabis users in the EU, according to a international survey.
Teenagers aged 15 and 16 are among the most regular users of the drugs in the 30 countries surveyed.
This study shows the 3pc of Irish teens in that category have tried cocaine, while almost one in five has experimented with cannabis. Another 2pc of 15- to 16-year-olds have tried ecstasy.
Overall, Irish under-35s are the third highest cocaine abusers – behind their Spanish and UK counterparts – according to the findings.
The findings follow a recent HSE public alert after a number of fatalities were linked to pills called "Green Apple" and "Green Rolex" (right).
The HSE also believes a lethal ecstasy-type substance known as "Double Cross" or "Double Black" has now made its way into the Irish drugs scene.
Paul Conlon, CEO for Aiseiri, which provides residential services to help young people overcome addiction, said the majority of addicts it saw were battling a range of addictions.
"We now treat teenagers dealing with multiple drug issues – cocaine is part of a wider selection of drugs people indulge in," he told the Irish Independent.
"We're seeing high levels of cannabis use, as well as a range of head-shop drugs, which are being accessed via the internet. Opiates are also in the mix.
"But I'm not surprised Ireland has a high prevalence of cocaine and stimulant use compared to European averages."
This latest survey shows that almost a quarter of European teenagers have dabbled in illegal drugs at some point or other – with cannabis the most widely used.
Usage is 1.5 times more likely among males compared with females.
Cocaine is now the most widely available illegal drug in Europe with 2.2 million users in the 15 to 34 age group.
The report was compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which also found the so-called 'darknet' is increasingly used by both dealers and addicts.
Drug overdose remains a major cause of avoidable death among young Europeans – particularly in Nordic countries.
The report says drug abuse on the Continent is becoming more complex and multi-layered – but heroin is not as big a problem as it used to be.
On the other hand there is increased focus on cannabis, medicinal products, plus a range of new stimulants and synthetic drugs.
However, in contrast to other parts of the world, cannabis use in Europe appears to be either stable or in decline, although this can vary significantly from country to country.
In recent years, most countries have also reported stable or declining trends in ecstasy use.
While most of Europe's heroin comes from Afghanistan and nearby countries, production of ecstasy is concentrated in Holland and Belgium.