Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.06 20 Jan 2020


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Teenagers are budgeting for cocaine to bring to their debs, according to a leading addiction specialist.

Michael Guerin, from the addiction charity Cuan Mhuire, told the Irish Examiner that teenagers are adding the cost of cocaine in with their suit or dress.

It comes amid increasing cocaine use in the country, with a Health Research Board report late last year showing a 50% increase in the number of people presenting for cocaine treatment in just 12 months.

Mr Guerin said clients are reporting first use of cocaine at 14 and 15 years old - and that drugs are becoming part of the debs ritual.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he explained: "[The comments] arose from us being contacted over a period of time by a number of parents who were very concerned about this development within their own families.

"We had enough enquiries [...] to lead us to believe that this is something that is happening."

Mr Guerin suggested that the country's cocaine epidemic has now "spread to every parish in the country".

He said: "To quote from a client we had here recently - who was from a very rural part of Ireland - with a cocaine dependence... he said he could get cocaine within a kilometre of his home. That will give you an indication of how widespread it is.

"In that sense, epidemic isn't too strong a word, when you also consider that a lot of clients coming into us now are reporting first use of cocaine at 14 and 15 years of old.

"These young people... who end up with fully-blown substance dependence issues in early adulthood... started out taking cannabis in their early adolscent years."

He added: "A lot of them will report to us that the people who supplied them with the cannabis introduced them to cocaine... and when they started taking cocaine they couldn't afford to pay for it.

"By way of paying for the cocaine they were getting, they were then recruited as a distributor."

He added that as a result there is now an "extremely complex, elaborate system" within the cocaine supply chain in Ireland.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/PA Images

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