HSE launch #DoYouUseCocaine harm reduction campaign

The campaign has been developed in partnership with the Ana Liffey Drugs Project to highlight the dangers of using cocaine

Written by Hannah Byrne


Use of cocaine among young adults in Ireland is on the rise according to a harm reduction campaign launched by the HSE and the Ana Liffey Drugs Project this week. The campaign aims to highlight the dangers of taking cocaine (powder and crack), and to reduce the harm of snorting, smoking or injecting cocaine.

Cocaine use in Ireland

Cocaine has become more widely available across Europe, with Ireland ranking fourth-highest in Europe for cocaine use among young adults. 

Cocaine is the third most common drug that those who go for treatment report using, with a steady increase in those seeking treatment for cocaine use over the last few years. 

There has also been an increase in cocaine-related deaths in Ireland, highlighting the need for a harm reduction campaign to ensure that those who do take cocaine understand the risks involved and how to minimise them. 

Reducing harm when taking cocaine or crack

It is always safest not to take drugs at all, but if you choose to use cocaine or crack, keep the following advice in mind:

If you decide to use cocaine

  • When buying, know your source and avoid using alone
  • Use one drug at a time and never mix with alcohol
  • Start with a small test dose and leave at least 2 hours between use 
  • Grind cocaine to remove clumps, use your own sterile straw and never share 
  • Carry a condom – cocaine can increase your sex drive

If you decide to use crack

  • Avoid using homemade crack pipes and don’t share your pipe
  • Avoid smoking the full rock
  • If injecting, start low and go slow to avoid overdose 
  • If you feel low after using, seek professional help
  • If you or a friend feels suicidal immediately go to a hospital or call 112

For more information, see our fact sheet on cocaine and crack.

Mixing alcohol or other drugs with cocaine or crack

It’s important to be aware that risks are significantly increased when cocaine is mixed with other substances, including alcohol. 93% of deaths involving cocaine in 2015 also showed other drugs were taken at the same time. 

There are a number of significant risks associated with mixing alcohol and cocaine, including but not limited to epilepsy, suicide, violence, accidents and sudden death. 

Learn more about mixing alcohol and other drugs here.

#DoYouUseCocaine campaign

The harm-reduction campaign was launched on Tuesday by Minister of State for Health Promotion & the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne.

In particular, the campaign hopes to target regular club goers, as research indicates rates of drug use is higher among those who go clubbing regularly compared to the general population. 

Speaking about the campaign, Minister Byrne said she believes this new campaign will “play a vital role in communicating the risks and dangers of cocaine use to dependent users and at risk groups, as well as to those who engage in recreational use”.

For more information on the campaign and to download resources visit drugs.ie/cocaine.

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