On this week’s show, I’ll be talking about cocaine addiction in Ireland.
The latest figures released by the Health Research Board, shows the number of people seeking treatment for problem cocaine use has increased, with the number of crack cocaine cases increasing by 400 per cent in recent years.
The HRB says last year, cocaine was the only substance where they saw an increase in those entering treatment for.
To discuss cocaine use in Ireland, I’m joined by Consultant Psychiatrist, Professor Colin O’Gara. Colin is the head of addiction services at St John of God Hospital in Dublin, where they provide specialist services in substance misuse.
Colin says all the indicators are pointing to a rise in cocaine use in Ireland, which he says is a result of the drug becoming normalised as well as widely available: “There’s probably been two peaks [in cocaine use]. The first was around the Celtic Tiger and with the economic crash, it almost disappeared.
“Then as the economy improved from 2013 onwards, we saw on the clinical frontline, reports of cocaine increasing quite substantially and up to recent years it's been quite dramatic. It's really become very normalised from our point of view, and the availability is huge. So when you have normalisation and strong availability you have serious problems.”
Colin says cocaine impacts all parts of the body when taken: “Cocaine is a stimulant that affects all systems of the body...the heart, the lungs, the brain, everything. All of the above is affected by cocaine.
“It's a very potent stimulant that initially leads to a massive release of dopamine...The problem with stimulants as opposed to opioids like heroin, is they tend to create a very edgy experience...it can create a lot of anxiety and paranoia.”
We also discuss what somebody should do if they feel they need to seek help for cocaine addiction, as well as all the different types of addiction services that are available.
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The Real Health podcast is in association with Laya Healthcare.