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Heroin epidemic gripping Ireland, say youth groups

category national | miscellaneous | other press author Friday September 09, 2011 14:45author by MediaMega

Irish Examiner: Friday, September 09, 2011

IRELAND is in the grip of a "heroin epidemic", while alcohol abuse among the young is leading them towards drug use, two youth support organisations warned yesterday.

The Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children were told by Spunout and the Aislinn Adolescent Addiction Centre that alcohol was both a gateway and relapse drug and that issues such as the availability of alcohol and its below-cost selling needed to be tackled as a matter of urgency.

Both groups also told the committee they had suffered funding cutbacks and were struggling to maintain services.

Breda Cahill, general manager of the Aislinn Centre, which provides treatment for adolescent drug users from its Ballyragget location in Co Kilkenny, said staff had noticed four crucial changes since it opened its doors in 1998.

"It has become the norm for adolescents to drink and take drugs and go beyond experimentation," she said.

Ms Cahill said alcohol was still the main drug abused by adolescents and the main drug of relapse.

"As a society we are unable to stop the flow of drugs and underage drinking."

She also noted a rise in the prevalence of suicide among adolescent drug users, versus the lack of stepdown facilities.

Ruairi McKiernan, chief executive of Spunout, said 50% of young people surveyed on the groupís website believed the future was bleak.

He said following a move from Galway to Temple Bar in Dublin, staff at Spunout regularly witnessed up to eight people at a time taking heroin on a nearby street.

"Ireland is actively in the midst of a very, very serious heroin epidemic," he said.

He also pointed to the growth in the number of off-licences in recent years while services for young people were being cut. He said changes on alcohol policy needed "political will and political courage".

Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten said there had been "doublespeak from the state on the whole position of alcohol", while people were still able to purchase cannabis seeds online and have them delivered to Irish addresses.

He said one website was even offering free seeds to people in Ireland making an order.

Mr McKiernan said that Spunoutís HSE funding had been cut from 30% to 20% of its budget, while Breda Cahill said the level of state funding Aislinn received would not cover the growing demand for services at a time when there were gaps in the mental health system for those aged 13 to 18 and no stepdown facilities.

She said its HSE funding had also been cut, meaning the Aislinn Centre was trying to plan for the delivery of its family support service on the same level of income it has had for the past two years.

Mr McKiernan said that some major philanthropical organisations, which had been "propping up" certain services were now "exiting stage left", causing anxiety for those people involved.

http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/heroin-epidemic-gripping....html

Related Link: http://www.spunout.ie

Comments (2 of 2)

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author by Tpublication date Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:41author address author phone

Denis Naughten's statement about seeds is just a distraction. The real problem is the underlying social deprivation and the destruction of all the social nets which is undergoing even further greater destruction by the international financial elite through their agencies of the ECB/IMF and thence the government.

A good start could be made on the alcohol problem by making it a bit harder to get it and not making it so cheap. Every Centra, Spar, and larger supermarket around the country has tonnes of the stuff going at remarkly cheap prices 7 days a week the moment you step into the store. A few years back the FF govt made a token gesture by mandating earlier closing hours for off-licenses which was a joke because any teenager on Fri/Sat night would have been down at the local supermarket much earlier in the day getting their supplies for the evening.

The other real problem is the glorification of alcohol in Ireland and places like the UK too. Drinking alcohol in excess is all related to your peers around you and certain expectations. Our society is so shallow and lacking any sense of cohesion, coherent national debate that really it is not surprising. Of course this is not a new thing. Even a century ago, we had a reputation of the drunken Paddy and one would imagine that back then it was a poverty issue.

The drug problem then would seem to be a natural extension of our underlying alcohol problem and whatever are the drivers of that.

Whatever the cause there is one effect of this. Drugs have completely destroyed certain communities usually those that were already the poorest and in a sense should be the very places where strong resistance and challenges ought to be made against the ruling order. But in such smashed places, it is very difficult for organised resistance or even critical mass of alternative ways of organising society, to arise. And this suits there prevaliling political elite to a tee. It is the same the world over where devasted poor urban areas are blighted by drugs and other forms of abuse.

There is probably no easy answer because ultimately the drug and alcohol blight strengths the grip on power through this smash and divide mechanism and so there is no real reason why anything other than token PR efforts are made by the body politic itself.

author by Cautiouspublication date Sun Sep 11, 2011 09:30author address author phone

"the drug and alcohol blight" by T at Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:41

Alcohol is, always has been, and always will be, a mind-altering drug.

Just because booze happens to be legal in this part of the world, does not in any way alter the "mind-altering drug" reality, or justify a separate classification which insidiously implies that it is somehow NOT a mind-altering drug.

Neither does it alter the fact that alcohol has proved itself to be a highly addictive drug (physically and psychologically) for a significant percentage of those who start using it, and, that in one way and another (including car crashes and other forms of accidental death for example), it kills far more people every year than all the other mind-altering drugs combined: legal, prescribed, and illegal.

Very interestingly, there is no safety and health warnings for the user (or potential user) on any of these mind-altering booze products.

Ever wondered why that might be?

Clue: Ask yourself who benefits most from this very neat and insidious (and entirely avoidable!!) piece of destructive deception?


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