Drug binges and violent crime


Sir, – Simple urine toxicology testing can be crucial in the emergency department setting, in promptly providing clinicians with clues to the various psychoactive agents that can trigger abrupt changes in personality and often bizarre violent behaviour.

The commonest proximate causes of such conduct include cocaine, amphetamine and (usually large quantities of) natural or synthetic cannabis. Given the increasing number of casual kidnappings, the ramming of police vehicles, and horrifying homicides of late, I would urge the State to instigate early routine toxicology screening for these drugs in all those arrested in relation to such scenarios.

Until and unless the connection between cocaine (and other drug) binges, and breath-taking levels of consequent violence are clearly established, it is highly unlikely that the people of this island will begin to grasp the terrifying implications of the industrial scale of drug consumption in every one of its 32 counties.

But, truly, the people of Ireland should be genuinely alarmed by the levels of drug-related violence now evident in every corner and every coroner’s court in the country.

And, by way of an incentive, quickly establishing that a dramatically deranged, often “monstrously muscular” male in custody has taken cocaine (etc) may potentially avoid the relatively common sudden deaths in police cells that occur as a result of the extraordinary difficulty in restraining such individuals (physically and chemically). – Yours, etc,


Consultant in

Emergency Medicine,

Adjunct Senior Lecturer

in Public Health,

University College Cork.