A local TD has urged the Government to launch a major education campaign on casual drug use.

Fianna Fail Dublin Mid West TD John Curran said he believes a change of approach is needed in this country.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction confirmed in its latest report into the drug situation in EU countries that the use of crack cocaine has increased in Ireland since 2014.

The report also states that the prevalence of high-risk opioid use in Ireland has significantly risen.

Speaking in the Dail last week Deputy Curran said:

“From my ongoing engagement with those working tirelessly to provide drug treatment and rehabilitation services, as well as gardai, I believe that a national multi-annual education and awareness campaign centred around both recreational and problem drug use could help reduce the prevalence of harmful substances being sold on our streets.

“In the past, the State together with other stakeholders and agencies have managed to shift the public’s attitude and behaviour around issues such as drink-driving and road safety.

“This was largely achieved through extensive public awareness campaigns.

“In 2019, there will be more than 700 drug-related deaths in Ireland.

“The awful truth is that more lives will be lost to drugs than on our country’s roads.

“The notion that substance abuse or addiction only affects a minority or certain sections of society is false.

“Drugs harm the lives of people from every background on any income and in any employment or stage in life.”

Deputy Curran also told the Dail the link between illegal drugs and gangland violence must be broken and how the State can go about doing this.

“That means we must radically change our approach and establish a national educational, awareness campaign in tandem with delivering on the recommendations set out in the National Drugs Strategy,” he said.

“Not just in classrooms or lecture theatres but in workplaces, at the bus stop or while flicking through the TV channels.

“Those who buy illegal substances need to be made aware of the impact of their drug use not just on their own health but on ordinary communities nationwide.

“It is well known that the serious and dangerous gangland criminality that has heightened in recent years is directly associated with the sale and supply of drugs.

“As the economy has recovered, the recreational use of cocaine, ecstasy and synthetic drugs has become popular on social scenes.

“However unintentional, the shootings, the petrol bombs and the violence are all a consequence of people buying drugs.”