Irish Heroin Use Shoots-up

A report from a European drugs watchdog has revealed that Ireland has one of the highest levels of heroin usage per head in Europe.

The report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) reported that in Ireland some 0.65% of 15 to 64 year olds in the state have a heroin problem, compared to a European average of 3.6 and 4.4 cases per 1,000 people.

Responding to today's report, Fine Gael Community Affairs Spokesperson, Frank Feighan, described the research as grim evidence of the grip, which the drug takes on societies in recession.

"The 2010 annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction makes for worrying reading. According to the report seven out of every 1,000 people in Ireland is a heroin user. This means our problem is the worst in the EU, with more than twice the number of heroin users as most of the other countries.

"We are staring in the face of a major social crisis, with the heroin-related social problems which marked the last recession happening all over again. Communities were ravaged and families destroyed. Even in a financial crisis, we have to find ways to harness community spirit and prevent a recurrence of this tragedy."

Mr Feighan added that it was clear the State had "major problems that must be addressed" as Ireland had not only the highest number of heroin users per capita, but it was also among the countries with the highest prevalence of cocaine and ecstasy use.

“In order to tackle the growing heroin crisis we must focus investment over the next year on a crisis action plan to address the waiting lists for treatment services and prevent heroin use growing further. Targeted Garda campaigns to stop the influx and spread of the drug have proved successful in the past and must be resourced to ramp up. The Government and its agencies working in the area must target scarce funds to the best effect if we are to prevent a devastating social crisis on top of the financial crisis.”

The report also found there were some three million users of cocaine in Europe. The average per country was 2.3 % with the level of Irish users coming to 3.1 %. The United Kingdom had the largest prevalence rate of 6.3% among young adults aged 15–34.


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