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Health Research Board. Drugs Misuse Research Division. (2005) Annual European report on drugs problem published. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 16, Winter 2005 , pp. 5-6.

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 EMCDDA Annual Report 2005

The latest facts and figures on drug use across Europe, and by country, are contained in the 10th annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) launched on 24 November 2005. The report points to an increase in cocaine use and in drug law offences across Europe, and highlights the problem of drug injecting in prisons throughout Europe. The report includes information on the situation in Ireland provided by the Drug Misuse Research Division of the Health Research Board, which is the Irish national focal point for the EMCDDA.

Cocaine

Increases in cocaine use across Europe are fuelling concern that cocaine is becoming the stimulant drug of choice for many young Europeans. Surveys in EU countries show that between 1% and 12% of young adults (15–34 years) report using cocaine at some point in their lives. In Ireland, figures from the 2002/2003 National Advisory Committee on Drugs general population surveys indicate that nearly 5% of young adults have tried cocaine at least once, putting Ireland in mid EU range.

Crime and prison

Most EU countries report an increase in drug law offences. Possession (for personal use) accounts for the largest proportion of such offences. In Ireland, there has been upward trend in the number of prosecutions for drug supply since 2001, in contrast to simple possession offences, which have decreased by 31.5%. The report notes the ‘considerable increases’ in the availability of substitution treatment in prisons in a number of countries, including France and Ireland. Opiate substitution treatment has been available in Dublin prisons since 2001. The report also highlights the problem of drug injecting in prisons throughout Europe. It notes the ‘broad political consensus’ to divert drug-using offenders from imprisonment to treatment and looks at how some initiatives have contributed to a decline in drug-related anti-social behaviour.

Treated problem drug use

The number of treated cases reported to the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) has increased steadily, from 6,048 in 1998 to 9,084 in 2003. The total number of drug treatment services available in Ireland increased between 1998 and 2003. The largest increase was in outpatient treatment services and general practitioner services. Up to 2004, less than 15% of the 293 general practitioners prescribing methadone participated in the NDTRS, therefore the total numbers reported to the NDTRS are underestimated by at least 2,000 cases. According to the EMCDDA, the total number of clients in substitution treatment in Europe is now over half a million. Methadone is Europe’s most commonly prescribed drug for the treatment of opiate dependence, with around 80% of those in substitution therapy receiving a methadone prescription.

Drug-related infectious diseases and drug-related deaths

In contrast to other countries in Western Europe, the number of HIV cases among injecting drug users in Ireland increased between 1999 and 2000, and again between 2002 and 2004. In 2004, there were 365 newly diagnosed HIV cases reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, of which, 71 (20%) were infected through injecting drug use. In Ireland, hepatitis C is endemic among injecting drug users. Two recent studies estimated the prevalence of blood-borne viruses among treated opiate users in two areas of Dublin. Between 66% and 72% of drug users tested positive for hepatitis C; 17% for hepatitis B core antigen, and 11% to 12% for HIV. According to the EMCDDA, overdose is still the main cause of death among opiate users.

New developments in prevention

According to the EMCDDA, Ireland is the only country in Europe to have developed an ‘intensive’ educational welfare service to work with schools and families in disadvantaged areas to ensure that young people attend school regularly. This is the National Educational Welfare Board, which has been given a key role in the National Drugs Strategy of ensuring school attendance in local drugs task force areas. Ireland and the UK, and to a lesser extent the Netherlands and Portugal, lead the field in targeting selective prevention measures at high-risk neighbourhoods. The Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF) is targeted at the fourteen local drugs task forces and four disadvantaged urban areas in Ireland.

Ireland was one of few countries to report activity in the area of drug-related social reintegration measures, such as the provision of housing, education, vocational training and support for current and former drug users in accessing the labour market.

The report notes that it is becoming apparent across the EU that ‘structured’ drugs strategies (i.e. those specifying objectives, deliverables, timeframes, and responsibilities) are effective in allowing decision makers to evaluate progress in terms of what is working, what is not working and what can be changed to improve performance. The results of the Mid-Term Review of the National Drugs Strategy, published by the Irish government in June of this year strongly confirm the EMCDDA’s findings regarding the benefits of a structured strategy.

For a copy of the EMCDDA Annual Report 2005 and related press material, log on to the EMCDDA website at http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the central reference point for drug information in the EU. Its role is to provide the EU and its Member States with objective, reliable and comparable information on drugs and drug addiction. The main information sources for the EMCDDA are national focal points set up in each EU Member State and in Norway.

 

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 16, Winter 2005
Date:October 2005
Page Range:pp. 5-6
Publisher:Health Research Board
Corporate Creators:Health Research Board. Drugs Misuse Research Division
Volume:Issue 16, Winter 2005
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:VA Geographic area > Europe

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