Home > National Drug Treatment Reporting System 2013 – 2019 drug data.

O'Neill, Derek and Carew, Anne Marie and Lyons, Suzi (2020) National Drug Treatment Reporting System 2013 – 2019 drug data. Dublin: Health Research Board.

PDF (NDTRS - 2019 drug data) - Published Version
PDF (2019 drug data - infographic) - Supplemental Material
PDF (Number of cocaine cases treated, by county) - Supplemental Material

The latest figures from the Health Research Board (HRB) show the number of cases presenting for cocaine treatment continued to rise between 2018 and 2019. The number of cases entering treatment for cocaine as a main problem drug has trebled between 2013 and 2019. 

Opioids remain the most common drug among cases treated for problem drug use. However, for the first time, cocaine has overtaken cannabis as the second most common drug that people enter treatment for. 

Key findings on drug treatment in 2019

In 2019, a total of 10,664 cases were treated for problem drug use, an increase from 10,274 in 2018.


Main problem drug (excluding alcohol)

  • Opioids (mainly heroin) were the most common main problem drug reported, accounting for 39% of cases treated in 2019, a decrease from 51% of cases in 2013.
  • Cocaine was the second most common main drug reported, accounting for 24% of cases treated in 2019, an increase from 8% of cases in 2013.
  • Cannabis was the third most common main drug, accounting 23.5% of cases treated in 2019, a decrease from 29% of cases in 2013.
  • Benzodiazepines were the fourth most common main problem, accounting for approximately 10% of cases each year from 2013 to 2019.
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica) as a main problem drug was reported by a small number of cases in 2019 (39 cases), however, the number has almost doubled compared to 2018 (21 cases). 

Polydrug use (problem use of more than one drug)

  • The proportion of cases using more than one drug decreased from 63% of cases in 2013 to 55% of cases in 2019.
  • Alcohol was the most common additional drug reported in 2019 followed by cannabis, benzodiazepines and cocaine.
  • MDMA (ecstasy) as a main problem accounted for a small number of cases (47 cases); however, significantly more cases reported MDMA as an additional problem drug (493 cases). 

Socio-demographic characteristics (all drugs)

  • The median age of cases increased from 29 years in 2013 to 31 years in 2019. 
  • Men accounted for approximately seven-in-ten drug treatment cases each year since 2013.
  • Young people under 18 years of age accounted for 822 of cases in 2019, an increase from 732 cases in 2018.
  • The majority of cases were unemployed. However, there has been a decrease in unemployment with a corresponding increase in the number of cases in paid employment over the seven-year period.
  • The number of cases recorded as homeless has increased, from 581 cases in 2013 to 1,173 cases in 2019.
  • The number who reported Irish Traveller as their ethnicity increased from 231 cases in 2013, to 320 cases in 2019

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