Home > A profile of adolescent cocaine use in Northern Ireland.

McCrystal, Patrick and Percy, Andrew (2009) A profile of adolescent cocaine use in Northern Ireland. International Journal of Drug Policy, 20, (4), pp. 357-364. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2008.09.005.

The image of cocaine as a ‘party’ drug used by more affluent members of society has begun to change as the levels of use of the drug rise among school-aged young people. This study aimed to provide data on the prevalence estimates and associated behaviours of cocaine use among school attenders, a group that traditionally has received relatively little attention in the cocaine literature. Cocaine use patterns among young people aged 13–16 years who were participating in the Belfast Youth Development Study, a longitudinal study of adolescent drug use was explored. Data was collected through an annual data sweep in participating schools. This paper includes data collected in years 3, 4 and 5 of the study.

The results show higher levels of cocaine use among this age group than reported in much of the existing harm reduction literature. Lifetime use was 3.8% at age 13–14 years, rising to 7.5% at 15–16 years. The profile indicated that adolescent cocaine users were more likely to be female, live in disrupted families and experience social deprivation, which is similar to existing adolescent drug- user profiles. There was also some evidence of experimental cocaine use among the sample. These findings provide further evidence for the development of age-appropriate, school-focused harm reduction initiatives and continued monitoring of contemporary trends of use of cocaine among school-aged young people.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Article
Drug Type
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Page Range
pp. 357-364
Elsevier Science
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