Home > Reducing the harms of cocaine use in Ireland.

Millar, Sean (2018) Reducing the harms of cocaine use in Ireland. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 67, Autumn 2018, p. 27.

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On 17 July 2018, a new campaign developed by the Ana Liffey Drug Project and the Health Service Executive (HSE) was launched to raise awareness of the dangers of using cocaine (powder and crack) and on how to reduce the harms associated with snorting, smoking or injecting cocaine.1 The Republic of Ireland currently ranks fourth highest in the European Union for cocaine use among young adults. In addition, cocaine remains the third most common drug reported among people presenting to treatment services in Ireland; in 2016, 12.3% of cases reported problem cocaine use, the highest proportion since 2010. While the campaign will stress that it is always safest not to take unknown or illicit drugs at all, if a person chooses to use cocaine, the campaign provides harm reduction advice. This includes the following: 

  • When buying, know the source and avoid using alone.
  • Use one drug at a time.
  • Start with a small test dose and leave at least two hours between doses.
  • Grind cocaine to remove small lumps; use a sterile straw and do not share.
  • Carry a condom as cocaine use may increase sex drive and lead to unprotected sex. 

Research indicates that regular clubgoers and people that are part of the club/dance music scene have higher rates of drug use compared to the general population. With this in mind, the awareness campaign will target clubs and public event spaces, colleges, and addiction services with information about cocaine powder. In addition, drug services, clinics, and Drug and Alcohol Task Forces will be targeted with information about crack.


Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD, welcomed the campaign and stated:

This is a very important campaign, focusing on providing information and raising awareness about cocaine among drug users and health professionals .... Through our national drugs strategy, ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’, we are working to strengthen early harm reduction responses to current and emerging trends and patterns of drug use, which would benefit people who use drugs, their families and the community.


1  Health Service Executive (2018) Cocaine – reduce the harms. Dublin: Health Service Executive. Available online at: https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/29335/

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