Drug Problems in Ireland

Drug abuse first started to become a problem in Ireland during the 1970s. Heroin quickly became the illegal substance that caused the most concern, especially in parts of Dublin. One report in 1983 provided the alarming statistic that 14 percent of 14-24 year olds living in the north side of Dublin had used heroin within the last 12 months. There are several treatment options available for those who hope to recovery from drug addiction in Ireland. In recent years there have been some concerns raised about the number of available beds for people hoping to detox.

Ireland Drug Addiction Statistics

Ireland has one of the highest levels of drug-related deaths in the whole of Europe. Studies suggest that 51 percent of those aged between 18 and 29 have at least tried illicit drugs in the past. There are believed to be 15,000 heroin users. Roughly 1 percent of the population of Dublin is addicted to this drug.

Most Commonly Abused Drugs in Ireland

The most commonly abused drugs in Ireland include:

* Opiates such as heroin
* Stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamine (speed)
* Sedatives
* Hallucinogens
* Solvents
* Headshop drugs (legal highs)


Headshops have come under close scrutiny in Ireland in the last couple of years, and many were closed down in 2010. Up until that point, there was one new headshop opening every week. These outlets were able to operate in a gray area of the law. The products they were selling allowed people to get high, but they were not illegal drugs. These pills and powders contained substances such as mephedrone and so they could be highly dangerous. One Accident and Emergency consultant in Cork claimed that they were more lethal than cocaine. Since the clampdown in 2010, many headshops have been forced out of business.

Drug-Related Problems in Ireland

Drug abuse can not only destroy the life of the individual but also cause problems for society as a whole. These are some of the problems related to substance abuse:

* Many addicts will support their habit by turning to criminality. It is believed that the majority of hard drug users are unemployed, and crime is the only way they can support their habit. One Irish study demonstrated a significant increase in criminality once people become involved with substance abuse. Drug abusers are not only more likely to commit crimes, but they are also more likely to be the victim of crime as well.
* Substance abusers are at high risk of becoming full-time addicts. This means that they will miss out on opportunities in life. The future for an addict is bleak. Addiction will take away all the good things in life and lead to an early grave. The recovery rate for heroin addicts is depressingly low, and most people who become addict will never be able to kick the habit.
* Overdose is common among drug users.
* Communities can be destroyed when there is a rise in drug abuse locally. People are afraid to leave their homes because of the increased level of crime. One an area has developed a bad reputation it can be hard to get private businesses to invest there. This means fewer opportunities for local people and the area become even more rundown.
* Illegal drug use makes it possible for criminal gangs to prosper. They can use the money obtained by selling drugs to finance other criminal enterprises.
* In the short-term, substance abuse allows the individual to escape their problems but ultimately makes the situation much worse. The individual eventually reaches the stage where they have to take the drug just to feel normal.
* Substance abuse not only destroys the life of the addict, but it can also have a significant impact on their family.
* Drug abuse changes people’s personality. They can become more aggressive and prone to making poor decisions.
* Treatment of health problems caused by drug abuse is a drain on the Irish health service.
* IV drug users have increased risk of developing HIV. There are also other drug related diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and blood poisoning (septicemia).

Irish Drug Addiction Treatment

There have been some criticisms about treatment services available for drug addicts who wish to detox in Ireland. There are currently only 30 hospital beds assigned by the Health Service Authority for those hoping to detox. This is worrying, because it means that even if the individual decides that they want to escape the drug abuse, they may not have access to the necessary facilities. There are some good treatment options in Ireland, including the following:

* Merchant Quay offers people a safe way out of addiction. It is a voluntary service that provides a number of options including detox. Their St Francis Farm detox and rehabilitation unit helps over a hundred people each year escape their addiction. They also offer advice and information to anyone in need of help.
* [Narcotics Anonymous] http://www.na-ireland.org/) is a 12 Step program that not only supports people who wish to break away from addiction, but also provides them with the tools to build a good life. There are NA meetings to be found all over Ireland.
* The Rutland Centre is one of the most respected rehabs in Ireland. The emphasis is on providing care that is fully backed by the latest research. They offer a five week residential program.

Because of the lack of detox beds in Ireland, there are some drug users who are looking abroad for answers. In recent years there have been a number of Irish people who managed to escape their addiction at a Buddhist drug rehab in Thailand called Thamkrabok.

Irish Harm Reduction

Not every drug user will be willing to completely walk away from their drug use. Harm reduction programs are designed to improve the life of these individuals while they still use. The aim is that this will not only make things better for them but also society as a whole. There is also the hope that once the individual begins to experience an improvement in their life they will become more open to the idea of permanent abstinence. The aims of these harm reduction programs include:

* Encouraging less harmful ways of using drugs
* Reducing the quantity of drugs that people use
* Discouraging some of the more harmful behaviors such as needle sharing
* Increasing the quality of these substances so that they are less harmful

Harm reduction programs include:

* Methadone maintenance programs
* Needle Exchange programs
* Injection rooms where people are safe to take these substances
* Provision of information and advice on the safer consumption of these substances