New figures indicate that treatment for the use of cocaine has increased by 50% in a 12-month period to more than 2,200 cases.

A report from the Health Research Board (HRB) also found that the proportion of people requesting treatment for heroin and cannabis use is decreasing.

There were 2,254 cases treated for cocaine last year, which was 50% up on the previous year and more than treble the number in 2012.

Opioid cases, which are mainly heroin use, are still the biggest category of treatment cases, but the proportion has dropped from 52% in 2012 to 42% last year.

Cannabis is also down from nearly 29% of cases to 23% in the same period. Cocaine is now nearly as high at 22%.

The overall number of people who are in paid employment and seeking treatment for drug use has more than doubled to 17%.

HRB Chief Executive Dr Darrin Morrissey said the figures highlight a changing pattern of drug use during the recent economic recovery.

He said: "By providing timely data the HRB can help increase awareness of risk, but also inform decision makers who can make appropriate responses to reduce harm and support recovery based on evidence."

Senior researcher Dr Suzi Lyons said that just over half of the cases treated for cocaine had never been in treatment before.

"The fact that people are seeking help is encouraging, particularly because many also used other drugs such as alcohol, cannabis and benzodiazepines and mixing drugs in this way can impact on recovery and increase the risk of overdose," she said.

Overall, there were 10,274 treatment cases recorded in 2018 up from 8,005 in 2012.

The average user was 31 years old, male and unemployed, while the proportion of homeless increased from just under 6% to 9.5% between 2012 and 2018.

Those from an Irish Traveller background made up 3.3% of cases, a proportionate increase of 18%.