A new community addiction team has been launched in west Dublin as the use of crack cocaine continues to rise across the capital.

The service will be delivered by drug and alcohol treatment centre Coolmine, which helped more than 1,400 addicts in 2017.

Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne launched the service and said it would provide a direct and effective response for those who need it.

Community Addiction Team – D15CAT – is located in Coolmine industrial estate and will target young people, new communities, those with alcohol addictions and adults misusing drugs.

Coolmine chief executive Pauline McKeown said the service would be the first port of call for those with addiction problems.

She added: “The specialist team will be working in tandem with existing services to provide a variety of substance abuse programmes as well as referring clients to appropriate residential treatment.”

Coolmine, which has been operational for 45 years, has residential treatment facilities for men at Coolmine Lodge and Ireland’s only mother and child residential treatment facility at Ashleigh House, as well as a day care facility in Lord Edward Street in the city centre.
Last year, the service was in contact with 9,000 people, delivering its supports on a budget of €3 million – an increase of zero on its 2016 funding.

In all, 119 men and 71 women availed of residential therapy during 2017. Those admitted were overcoming addiction to a variety of illicit drugs as well as prescription drugs and alcohol.

Based on research, more than 70% of those who availed of the services will remain drug-free.

Coolmine’s annual report shows an alarming increase in the use of crack cocaine, which has now overtaken heroin as the most commonly abused drug.

The organisation said one-third of all its admissions are now for crack cocaine addiction – overtaking heroin, at 31%.

Crack cocaine, which is smokable, is made by chemically altering cocaine powder to form crystals or rocks. Coolmine says the cost of the drug has decreased significantly in the past 12 months.

The service also noted a sharp rise in addiction to prescription drug Lycria. A cocktail of alcohol, cocaine and benzodiazepine pills also continues to affect an increasing number of those with addiction problems.

A report published by the EU drugs agency earlier this month indicates that Ireland has one of the highest prevalence of cocaine use in Europe, along with Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.