June 5, 2018
Dealers began offering smaller, cheaper bags of the drug from last summer.
The HSE is planning a harm reduction information campaign in response to a significant increase in use of crack-cocaine in Dublin city centre.
Drug service workers on both sides of the Liffey have noticed an increase in availability and use of the drug since last summer.
“Crack-cocaine isn’t new – it would come and go as a drug trend but this is more sustained use,” said Tony Duffin of the Ana Liffey Drug Project.
A smokeable form of cocaine made by chemically altering cocaine powder to form crystals or rocks, crack-cocaine produces a short but intense high with effects much stronger than the powdered version of the drug.
Duffin said the rise in availability of cocaine in the capital had led to an increase in the amount of crack being manufactured.
There was something that happened around the summer of last year – a rock of crack would cost around €50. Dealers began to make smaller rocks for €25 so people could buy them for cheaper.
Duffin, who’s CEO of the Abbey Street-based addiction and outreach organisation, said there was a cohort of around 40 people in the north inner city area regularly using crack-cocaine.
Tony Geoghegan of Merchant’s Quay Ireland, on the city’s south quays, said that out of almost 1,300 individuals using of their needle exchange services in the first three months of the year, 242 people reported using crack-cocaine.
The figures, which cover 1 January to 15 March, are collated from 5,930 individual visits to the MQI centre.
Most users smoke the drug, but a smaller number inject it intravenously and it’s often taken in combination with other substances.
Said Geoghegan: All the staff are saying we’re getting much more people using it. We’re getting more requests for paraphernalia, for crack pipes to give out
Similar to the approach taken to needle exchange, drug services offer clean crack pipes to service-users as part of their harm reduction efforts in a bid to cut down on the spread of hepatitis C and other blood-borne disease.
“With the pipes there are individual mouthpieces,” the Merchant’s Quay CEO said.
“While smoking crack is obviously physically harmful in terms of the respiratory system, if it’s being smoked in a pipe rather than something someone has made ad-hoc it would be less harmful”.
Users tend to manufacture pipes with plastic bottles and tin-foil, he explained, “and they’d tend to inhale some of the plastic as well. It really adds to the harm.”
People who use crack are also at increased health risk as the effects of the drug mean they stay awake for longer, Geoghegan said.
“People have the capacity to use a lot more than they do on heroin. If people are using heroin they can only take so much and then people fall asleep
Source: Daragh Brophy, The Journal.ie, 05/06/18