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Galvin, Brian (2010) 2009 report on the drugs situation in Europe. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 32, Winter 2009 , p. 6.

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The annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) on the drugs situation in Europe was published on 6 November.1 While the report points to a stable situation in relation to heroin, and confirms reports of a stabilising or even declining trend in the use of amphetamines and ecstasy, cocaine use continues to rise, albeit in a small number of countries.  There are between 1.3 and 1.7 million problem opioid users in the EU and Norway, with heroin responsible for Europe’s largest drug-related health and social costs. Some 12 million Europeans have tried cocaine in their lifetime, compared with around 11 million for amphetamines and 9.5 million for ecstasy.  

In Ireland, between 13,405 and 15,819 individuals used opiates in 2001; this estimate represents 1% of the opiate users in Europe.  The picture in relation to cocaine is consistent with the broader European situation and the proportion of adults who reported having used the drug increased from 3% in 2002/3 to 5% in 2006/7.   There was a slight increase in lifetime use of ecstasy, and use of amphetamines remained stable.
 
Opiate situation in Ireland
Ireland, like over half of the countries in the EU, reported an increase in new opiate cases entering treatment since 2005. After a decrease between 2001 and 2004, the number of such cases increased steadily between 2005 and 2007, when 9,769 cases received substitution treatment for opiate use. Problem opiate (mostly heroin) use accounted for 63% of those entering treatment for drug problems in Ireland, compared to the European average of 47%.
 
In 2005, 159 drug-induced deaths occurred in Ireland and 88% of fatal overdoses were associated with opiate use.  The number of such deaths increased in Ireland in 2004 and 2005, as they did in most European countries. Research in Ireland, Spain, the UK and elsewhere shows that the risk of overdose decreases substantially when heroin users are in substitution treatment.While there has been a dramatic expansion of methadone treatment services in Europe, and the treated population has grown steadily, the number of methadone-related deaths has fallen. 
 
With regard to infectious diseases, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre reported that there were 1,381 diagnosed HIV cases in Ireland at the end of 2007, probably infected through injecting drug use. Data from blood-borne viral prevalence studies completed between 1995 and 2001 indicated that around 10% of injecting drug users attending drug treatment tested positive for antibodies to HIV and 70% for antibodies to hepatitis C; this places Ireland among the low-prevalence countries for HIV and among the high-prevalence countries for hepatitis C.
 
The number of heroin seizures in Ireland increased from 612 in 2004 to 763 in 2005, and, more sharply, to 1,254 in 2006 and to 1,698 in 2007; the latter increase is higher than the 10% increase between 2006 and 2007 in heroin seizures reported in some European countries.
 
Cocaine situation in Ireland
The proportion of adults in Ireland who reported using cocaine (including crack) at some point in their lives increased from 3% in 2002/3 to 5% in 2006/7; the figures for young adults also showed an increase, from 5% in 2002/3 to 8% in 2006/7. The proportion of young adults who reported using cocaine in the last year increased from 2% in 2002/3 to 3% in 2006/7; the range for current cocaine use among young adults in Europe was between 0.2% and 5.4% placing Ireland among the high-prevalence countries (such as the UK, Spain and Italy).
 
Like Ireland, many countries across Europe reported an increased demand for treatment for problem cocaine use. The number of treated cases in Ireland who reported cocaine as a main problem drug increased considerably, from 81 in 2001 to 770 in 2007; in 2007, 462 cases entered treatment for the first time. In 2007, cocaine use (mostly powder) accounted for 13% of those who entered treatment for drug problems in Ireland, compared to an average of 16% across Europe. The number of cocaine seizures in Ireland has increased with time, from 515 in 2003 to 1,749 in 2007.
 
Amphetamines, ecstasy
Amphetamine use is relatively uncommon in this country and Ireland is among the low-prevalence countries in Europe. Ecstasy use is more common than amphetamine use among young adults in Ireland. The proportion of young adults who reported using ecstasy in the last year remained relatively stable at 2.3% in 2002/3 and 2.4% in 2006/7, which places Ireland among the medium-prevalence countries. The number of treated cases who reported ecstasy as a main problem drug decreased considerably, from 219 in 2001 to 129 in 2007.
 
Cannabis
Cannabis was the most commonly used illegal drug in Ireland and its use has not declined as it has in other parts of Europe. The proportion of adults who reported using cannabis at some point in their life increased from 17% in 2002/3 to 22% in 2006/7 and the proportion who used it in the last year increased from 5% in 2002/3 to 6.3% in 2006/7, placing Ireland just below the EU average (7%). However, the number of treated cases reporting cannabis as a main problem drug decreased steadily. In 2007, cannabis use accounted for 16% of those entering treatment for drug problems in Ireland, compared to an average of 21% across Europe. Cannabis seizures account for the majority of all drug seizures in Ireland.
 
1. EMCDDA (2009) Annual report 2009: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/12593/
 
Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 32, Winter 2009
Date:18 January 2010
Page Range:p. 6
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 32, Winter 2009
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:VA Geographic area > Europe
A Drugs and alcohol use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence of drugs and alcohol use > Drugs and alcohol use behaviour

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