The explosion in the use of cocaine as a drug of choice for so many people in this country is something that I wrote about in this column a number of months ago. This week the Health Research Board have confirmed that use of the drug is now widespread in every town and village in Ireland.
In fact the Gardai and other authorities are now so worried about the extent of the use of cocaine, they say it is becoming a far bigger problem than alcohol abuse. This is a remarkable development.
This week the Board have said that the average cocaine user is now far more likely to be a farmer, a nurse or a factory worker – and not the wealthy urban office workers who were often the stereotypical cocaine users in the past. People who work in the drug treatment sector around the country now say that while cocaine use was largely confined to cities and big towns up to five years ago, it is now present in every community in the country, urban and rural.
In the local newspapers in recent months there have been many warning signs about the spiral in cocaine use. In Letterkenny, the Donegal Democrat recently reported that the problem in the town was ‘rampant’. A recent meeting of the Mayo Joint Policing committee was told that the problem in the county was ‘spiralling out of control’.
Apparently if there is a big weekend of socialising coming up – such as a wedding or a stag or hen party – some people are using cocaine to ensure that they do not need to go to bed and can thus stay drinking for long periods without having to sleep.
The report also states that by the time cocaine gets to the small dealers in rural Ireland, the drug has been mixed several times with other substances such as rat poison, meaning people do not have a clue what they are taking.
Furthermore, it has to follow that if so many people, both young and not so young, are taking cocaine, the number of people driving on our roads with this drug in their system is rising with every passing week. That, needless to say, is a major concern.
The amount of violent attacks on our streets is increasing all the time and I would maintain that much of that is down to the erratic behaviour brought on by excessive cocaine use.
There has to be a price to be paid for this latest development in Irish society. I am convinced that many parents and those who are responsible for the education of young people are not aware in the slightest of just how big this problem is at the moment.
If there are people out there today who think that cocaine use is not a problem in their community, then they are deluded and need to wake up. It’s only when they are a number of tragedies that people will sit up and take notice. Then it’s too late.
There are so many ways for people to get a hold of this drug now. I am told that to successfully get your hands on cocaine requires little more than a couple of phone calls, regardless of where you live in this country right now. It’s frightening.