Ireland’s Drug Problem is Making Some Experts Wish Alcohol Was Still Ireland’s Biggest Health Problem

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It’s not everyday that a city can say they wish alcohol was still their major problem, but in Cork, Ireland, addiction and health experts are saying that they almost hanker for the days when middle-aged alcoholics were their biggest problem when pubs were the epicenter of socializing. Speakers at an Irish conference called The Rends and Future Challenges of Addiction have agreed that being an alcoholic alone is now an exception for addicts who are actively seeking treatment for substance abuse. The majority of addicts in certain parts of Ireland are of a different kind. They are addicted to multiple substances and it’s causing serious problems. The addicts of today’s Ireland that are seeking treatment (and many who aren’t) are now addicted to a variety of substances, including alcohol, street drugs, painkillers and benzodiazepines.

Consultant in emergency medicine, Dr Chris Luke, described multiple addiction as “the greatest existential threat to the State since the civil war”. Dr Luke, who is based at Cork’s Mercy University Hospital, said he was “frequently in despair” at the condition of multi- drug users who presented for treatment at A&E. Champion of the homeless, Fr Peter McVerry, said when he started out over 30 years ago, “the biggest problem was the off-licence selling drink to kids”. “I wish that was still the challenge. Each drug that comes along is doing more harm then the last. “In a few years time, we’ll wish we had a heroin problem because what we are facing now with crystal meth and crack cocaine is terrifying.”

The problem of being addicted to multiple drugs seems to be a nation wide health concern that Ireland is now facing, but to say it is limited to Ireland would be a very big mistake. It’s a very difficult thing to take care of, since many of the drugs being abused are classified differently under the law, are coming from different sources and some of them are actually legal. People are selling their painkillers on the street or to friends and are making a lot of money doing so, and when they become too expensive for the average street user, they will move on to something cheaper and more dangerous like heroin. For others, opiates aren’t what they’re after. They want a different kind of high all together and are seeking things like crystal meth and crack cocaine which are highly addictive, highly dangerous and provide a user with a severe stimulation that can last for hours. A pick-me-up, so to speak that becomes harder and harder to attain. For addicts, though, crystal meth and crack cocaine are easily attainable and cheap, which is probably why it’s become such a wide-spread problem.

The problem in Ireland has become so dire, that many people, including police are counting their blessings over the fact that pubs are still a popular place for young people to congregate. While they don’t want to see young people binge drinking or becoming alcoholics, they believe that at the very least pubs are relatively safe and the young people are under supervision of pub owners and staff, instead of being out on the street buying drugs, overdosing and in many cases being sent to hospital and dying. Even doctors in parts of Ireland are reminiscing of the times when alcohol was the major health concern, because there were certain ways to manage it’s influence.

The troubles that Ireland are facing aren’t unique to them, and measures need to be taken in many parts of the world where drugs are taking over and destroying lives. Young people seem to be the key to solving the problem. They need every resource imaginable made available to them to keep them from turning to drugs and becoming addicted. Drug education, treatment facilities and financial opportunities will be the deciding factors in the fight against dangerous addictions to alcohol, street drugs and prescription medications.



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Sobriety Foundation

Ireland’s Drug Problem is Making Some Experts Wish Alcohol Was Still Ireland’s Biggest Health Problem

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