29/05/2013

Govt Urged Over Drug Injection Centres

The government is being urged to consider opening drug injection centres around Dublin city centre, ahead of an expected rise in drug-related activity this summer.

Homeless and drug-addiction charities Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) and Ana Liffey Drug Project (ADLP) recently organised a seminar entitled: "A Safer City for All – addressing the risks of injecting drug use," which was formally launched by Alex White, Minister of State for Primary Care.

The seminar included the launch of a report by MQI on the experiences of 388 people who use their Needle Programme.

The report shows that, while the most prevalent drug was heroin, most drug users are now poly drug users, with (75%) using more than one drug.

There exist high levels of Hepatitis C and other blood borne viruses among intravenous drug users (IDUs). 45% of IDUs in the study reported being positive for Hep C.

There is still low access to treatment amongst IDUs who tested positive for Hep C. Out of 125 who tested positive for Hep C, only 18 were in treatment, according to the report.

Speakers at the seminar called for easy access to detoxification for poly-drug users. Many centres are aimed only at people who use a single substance such as heroin.

The seminar also found that access to blood borne virus testing & treatment needs to be available in current service centres, and that the government must explore the concept of Medically Supervised Injecting Centres (MSIC).

These centres can provide early intervention and address issues related to on street injecting.

Speaking at the launch, Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland, said: "The report confirms people are still using heroin, but polydrug use is now the dominant trend. This means detox services in Ireland have to match the need. In Ireland there are currently no detox options for this group. Furthermore the report shows a critical need for testing for Hep C and other Blood borne viruses (BBVs) in this at risk group to improve individual health through appropriate treatment but also to reduce the spread of the these diseases.

"MQI’s current Needle and Syringe Programmes are about harm reduction. Service provision reduces levels of anti-social behaviour, reduces the harm of drug use and can be a first point of contact for detox and rehabilitation options”

(IT/MH)


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