Ireland's drug treatment services have reported that cocaine use has risen due to a shortage of heroin.
Graham Ryall of the Rialto Community Drug Team, in Dublin, told the Irish Examiner newspaper that the price of heroin has jumped from €20 a bag to €50 a bag. Addicts are turning to cocaine, tranquillizers and anti-anxiety drugs to get high. They now face a higher risk of overdosing when supplies do return, as their tolerance levels will have dropped.
Emergency room doctor Chris Luke told RTE (Ireland national broadcaster) that he expects at least 500 people will die from taking cocaine in the next 10 years. He said that cocaine causes "electrical chaos" in the heart and "kills suddenly and unpredictably".
The shortage of heroin has been put down to a fungus that has blighted the poppy crop's in Afghanistan.
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