County Wexford has experienced a 160 per cent increase in the number of people seeking treatment for cocaine use.
Data from the Health Research Board shows a massive rise in cocaine cases in the seven years between 2012 and 2018.
The news comes as no surprise, according to the coordinator of the Cornmarket Project Paul Delaney who said the reality is that all drug use, including cocaine, new varieties of artificial cannabis and new counterfeit tablets and pills, are showing a significant increase in use around the county.
County Wexford now has the dubious distinction of having the second highest regional rate of drug use out of nine HSE Community Health Organisational reas nationally, second only to the two large Dublin CHO areas.
In 2012, 19 people in County Wexford sought treatment for cocaine addiction, the same figure as 2013. There was a significant increase in 2014, to 35 cases. In 2015, the number was 31; in 2016 it was 35. By 2017 the number had risen to 39 and in 2018, it went to 50.
Commenting on the huge increase in cocaine use, Mr. Delaney said it was a bit glib to attribute the rise solely to an upturn in the economy.
'In Wexford, our figures would approximate with those at national level and show that 80 per cent of cocaine usersare male and 35 per cent of those are unemplyed'.
'So despite cocaine often being portrayed as the 'party drug', what we are now seeing with falling prices, is cocaine being used like a lot of other drugs, to cope with uncomfortable feelings and life challenges in general'.
He suggested that the increase in cocaine use can partly be linked to a rise in the use of so-called psychoactive substances or NPS drugs which can mimic the high or rush of cocaine but are much cheaper and easier for young people to obtain.
'It's then just a small step for users of these NPS drugs into cocaine use', he said.
'You must remember, drug dealers are a bit like your local shop, you might go there for a litre of milk or loaf of bread but you'll also be tempted by what's on special offer and you might come away with more than you planned to buy'.
'Drugs can be a bit like that and for most young people who are already using the new type of conterfeit NPS drugs, it's hard to resist the temptation to move into cocaine, especially if it's being offered at a discounted prices.
The Cornmarket Project which has celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, offers support services to people struggling with substance misuse.
In the time since the service was founded, 67 clients have lost their lives to drugs in Wexford.