Frank Feighan TD, Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing, and the National Drugs Strategy, today announced €850,000 in recurring funding for a HSE-led initiative to reduce the health-related harms associated with the use of cocaine and ‘crack’ cocaine. The new funding is provided in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2022.
The funding will support models of best practice in cocaine treatment, including the development of training programmes for addiction service staff nationally. It will also establish targeted interventions in disadvantaged communities worst affected by cocaine and ‘crack’ cocaine.
Minister Feighan said:
"Strengthening harm reduction responses to the use of cocaine and ‘crack’ cocaine is a strategic priority for the National Drugs Strategy for the period 2021-2025. This initiative will also contribute to a whole of government response to the social determinants and consequences of drug use in disadvantaged communities"
The Minister continued:
“I welcome the HSE’s leadership and commitment to work with relevant stakeholders, including community and voluntary organisations, in developing and delivering this initiative. This partnership approach is at the heart of the National Drugs Strategy."
Dr Eamon Keenan, National Clinical Lead in Addiction Services, Health Service Executive said:
“Over the past few years there has been a growing recognition of the problems associated with cocaine use and the emergence of ‘crack’ cocaine in disadvantaged communities.”
Dr Keenan added:
“This funding will support services in delivering evidence-based interventions and will increase training opportunities for staff in Addiction Services nationally. It will also improve the support provided to those affected by adverse health consequences of cocaine or ‘crack’ cocaine use.
“Community Health Organisations will shortly be invited to submit proposals to deliver an intervention for cocaine problems and this will include communities where there is a significant issue with ‘crack’ cocaine. Applications will be required to provide an indication of the identified population need, as well as an evidence-base for the proposed intervention. It is the intention to allocate the funding in Q2 2022."
Key data  
cocaine and ‘crack’ cocaine as a drug is becoming more prevalent, with 2.3 percent of the population reporting use of the drug in the last year in the latest national drug and alcohol survey (2019/2020)
treatment figures have increased from 853 cases representing 8.6% of the total number presenting for addiction treatment in 2014 to 2,619 cases representing 27% of the total number in 2020
cases treated for ‘crack’ cocaine as the main problem drug accounted for 16 per cent of all cocaine treatment last year
there were 53 cocaine-related drug deaths in 2017
Over the past few years there has been a growing recognition of the problems associated with cocaine use and more recently the emergence of ‘crack’ cocaine in disadvantaged communities. The 2019-20 Irish National Drug and Alcohol Survey published recently by the HRB notes that, ‘overall, recent cocaine use had increased significantly among males and to a lesser extent among females.’
Given the increasing prevalence of cocaine use in Ireland and the emergence of ‘crack’ cocaine in disadvantaged communities the requirement for targeted responses is evident. This funding will support services in delivering evidence-based interventions and will increase training opportunities for staff in Addiction Services nationally. It will improve the support provided to those affected by adverse health consequences of cocaine or ‘crack’ cocaine use.
Cocaine as a drug
Cocaine is a stimulant type of drug that can make people feel more alert, energetic, and confident. It can cause significant physical and psychological health risks and long terms harms such as dependency. Each person can react differently to a substance and have a different experience based on personal factors, including if they use it with other substances and the setting they use in.
‘Crack’ cocaine is produced from cocaine by chemically altering the cocaine and is usually smoked in pipes, but it can also be injected. The effects are more intense than those obtained when using cocaine and the negative health and social consequences are exacerbated.
Information relating to the harms of cocaine and ‘crack’ cocaine are available on the below link, this link also provides harm reduction information for people who decide to use these substances: https://www.drugs.ie/cocaine_information_and_risk_reduction/
While advising that it is safer not to use these drugs, the resources also provide practical advice to those who do decide to use drugs to increase safety and reduce harms.
Search for a local support service through the Drugs.ie National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Services www.drugs.ie/services or call The HSE Drugs & Alcohol Helpline on 1800 459 459 Monday – Friday 9:30 – 5:30 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
 Data obtained from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) and published by the HRB.
From Department of Health
Published on 14 January 2022
Last updated on 14 January 2022