DUBLIN, Ireland: Ireland has the world's fourth highest consumption of cocaine, according to a new United Nations report.
The UN further reported that 2.4 per cent of the Irish people said they had used cocaine during the previous 12 months.
This is the same as other countries in fourth place, including the US and Austria.
Worldwide, only Australia, the Netherlands and Spain reported higher levels of cocaine use.
The information on cocaine use in Ireland comes from the last year data was collected, in 2019.
Entitled the Global Report on Cocaine 2023 from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Irish officials were also warned of future violence in Ireland by those selling cocaine and the rise in use of crack cocaine.
While cocaine sales fell significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic, officials say production has now surpassed pre-pandemic rates. In fact, cocaine production has now doubled the amount produced in 2014, said the UN.
Between 2011 and 2019, reports Ireland's Health Research Board, there was a 171 percent increase in the number of young people receiving treatment for cocaine abuse throughout the country.
The UN also reports that western Europe has become one of the world's major cocaine markets.
Adding to law enforcement problems, the purity of cocaine sold to the public has generally increased from 35 to 60 percent, said officials.
Further, officials reported, the cocaine sold in Ireland is controlled by Irish gangs.
Referring to increasing gang violence, the report stated, "Analysts warn that expanding cocaine use across diverse user groups in Ireland and the UK, as well as Ireland's potential role as a transit country for UK cocaine, are likely to lead to violent clashes in the future," it warned.