Heroin use in Dublin rising - survey


Heroin use in Dublin rose last year despite a drought in the drug for almost four months, it has been reported.

Merchants Quay Ireland said it supported 4,308 clients in the capital in 2010, including 575 new injectors attending needle exchange clinics.

Tony Geoghegan, chief executive, said the figure averaged more than 10 new users a week, highlighting that demand for drugs remained constant.

“I think it’s significant there was still an increase in clients despite the fact there was practically no heroin on the streets from September to after Christmas,” he said. “This year’s figures are up again.”

Some 4,092 drug users had attended the Dublin centre in 2009, including 642 new injectors.

Elsewhere, the report found drug problems were continuing to grow rapidly outside of Dublin, with more than 20 per cent of clients accessing residential rehabilitation services from the greater Cork region.

Mr Geoghegan said demand for both homeless and drugs services was growing rapidly as the recession continued, yet finances were contracting.

Merchants Quay Ireland gave 57,840 meals to homeless people during the year - a 26 per cent jump from 2009 when 45,710 meals were provided.

“Our response has been to expand and develop our services on the tightest budget possible to meet this need,” he added.

Mr Geoghegan said there was also evidence of a strong link between homelessness and drug use, with over one-third of admissions at one residential treatment programme being clients who were previously homeless.

The agency, which is now delivering services in 11 counties across Ireland, is also on the threshold of opening a new 10 bed detox unit in in Tullow, Co Carlow, which will increase capacity to 24.