Cocaine use in Ireland is declining with the number of heavy users dropping to zero, according to the latest official study.

No respondents reported taking cocaine more than 20 days in the past month compared to 7% of users in a previous survey.

The research covered both the Republic and Northern Ireland in a joint study carried out in late 2010 and early 2011.

It showed the number using cocaine in the past month has remained the same as in 2006/2007 at 0.5% of the population.

But the drug is being used less frequently with 96% using only one to three days a month compared to 68% in the previous survey.

And the number using more than 20 days a month has dropped to 0% from 7%.

The figures compiled here by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol show that the total number of people who have ever tried cocaine has more than doubled to just under 7% of the total population since 2002/2003.

But researcher Dr Orla Dempsey said this increase is expected in an ageing population.

NACDA Chairman Prof Catherine Comiskey said the overall decline in cocaine use is part of a European wide trend.

Users are twice as likely to be male than female and also twice as likely to  be aged 15 to 34 than older.

The biggest single reason given by users for giving up cocaine was "did not want to take it anymore" cited by around 18% followed by the cost and health concerns.

Less availability was given as a reason by less than 2%.