DUBLIN, Ireland - Revealing the shocking rise in the use of cocaine across Ireland, a study conducted by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) released its elaborate report on Saturday.
According to the EMCDDA report titled 'Recent Changes in Europe's Cocaine Market,' Ireland has become one of the five European Union member states with the highest prevalence of cocaine use.
The study found that in a brief four year period, Ireland recorded a shocking 90 percent rise in new treatments for cocaine use.
It noted that new treatments for cocaine use grew from 297 in 2012 to 568 in 2016.
Further, the study revealed that cocaine-related deaths too had rose - from 21 in 2010, to more than double the number of deaths in 2015, at 44.
Consumption rises in the EU
The EMCDDA said in its report that the most recent EU-level estimate suggested that around 2.3 million young adults aged between 15 and 34 years, used cocaine in the last year.
This was 1.9 percent of this age group in the region.
Meanwhile, the study pointed out that national estimates hovered between 0.2 percent and 4.0 percent.
According to the study, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom were the countries with the highest prevalence of cocaine use in Europe.
Prevalence in these five countries was estimated to be 2.5 percent or higher.
The EU drugs agency pointed out that the European drug market was experiencing a surge in the availability of high-purity cocaine.
It has attributed the rise to increased production, an expansion in the number of trafficking gangs, encrypted communication, social media promotions, and increased normalization in nightlife settings.
Further, the study noted that some countries even had 'call centres' for the sale of the drug, which further fueled the rise of cocaine use.
According to the EMCDDA, the trend is also reflected in a range of indicators, including treatment data and drug-related deaths.
It said that increases in the number of first-time treatment entrants for crack cocaine between 2014 and 2016 were reported in Belgium, Ireland, France, Italy and the United Kingdom to 44 in 2015.
In several countries, especially in southern and western Europe, the use of cocaine is growing.
Cocaine is also the main stimulant used in this young adult group, and is much ahead of MDMA and amphetamines.
The EU drugs agency highlighted in its report that in 2016, the quantity of cocaine seized worldwide had reached the "highest level ever reported."
It said that in 2016, 1,129 tonnes of cocaine was seized worldwide, which was a 23 percent increase from 2015.
The report pointed out, "Despite continuing seizures throughout Europe, large quantities of cocaine appear to be entering the continent at a regular pace."
It said, "Law enforcement agencies were facing challenges in containing the flow."
According to recent data, South America has witnessed record levels of production, which rose for the third consecutive year in 2016.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, last month, Gardai and Customs made two separate seizures, intercepting over 100 kgs of cocaine worth around 7.5 million euros in street value.
Further, Garda sources have revealed that the amount of cocaine seized was meant to supply the festive party season.
Before that, Irish authorities made another large seizure of 133 kgs of cocaine in August.
At the time, authorities had revealed that the haul of cocaine was found inside a container of a ship in Costa Rica, that was bound for Cork.