Irish cocaine use 'may have peaked'
Cocaine use may have peaked in Ireland, latest figures suggest.
While researchers said it is too early to tell for sure, a turnaround in the trends could point to long-term dwindling demand after the excesses of the Celtic Tiger years.
A report into drug use across Ireland shows declining numbers of young people in the 15-to-24-year-old age group taking the illicit substance, which soared in popularity during the boom.
But alongside this, the findings from the island-wide survey show cocaine is now more prevalent among 25-to-34-year-olds, and its use has also steadied or "stabilised" among this age bracket.
Dr Justine Horgan, senior researcher with the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD), said the recreational drug used to be more widespread among teenagers and those in their early 20s.
"It appears to be less popular now among 15-to-24-year-olds than it was at the beginning of the survey (in 2002)," she said.
Dr Horgan said the findings may point to a "cohort effect" whereby the age profile of cocaine use in Ireland was getting older, reflecting the people who began using it when they were younger and there was more cash to spend.
But she suggested it could take another four years to draw firm conclusions.
The report, commissioned by the NACD and Northern Ireland's Public Health Information and Research Branch, shows almost one in ten people throughout the island have tried cocaine at some stage.
Almost 3% of people aged between 15 and 34 admitted using the drug in the last year, with a more detailed breakdown showing it to be more popular with the older half of that age group.