Home > 56. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the recently published report... which notes that heroin use is in the increase. [39341/10]

[Oireachtas] 56. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the recently published report... which notes that heroin use is in the increase. [39341/10]. (03 Nov 2010)

URL: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/11/03/00032...


56. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the recently published report by an organisation (details supplied) which notes that heroin use is in the increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Pat Carey): I welcome the publication of the report outlining the continued extensive work undertaken by the organisation in question in dealing with the drugs problem. Heroin use remains as a major problem in our country. All the indications are that, while the use of heroin is relatively stable in the Dublin region, it has become more widely dispersed around the country, particularly in the major cities and in towns across Leinster. Responding to this problem continues to be a priority under the National Drugs Strategy 2009-16.
 
It is difficult to establish an accurate baseline of the prevalence of opiate use in the country. A report from the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) in December 2009 indicated that there were 11,807 known opiate users in 2006, but that there was considerable doubt over the number of unknown users — those who had not come into contact with drug treatment services, hospital services or the Gardaí. A study is currently being carried out on behalf of the NACD to assess how best to estimate overall opiate user numbers.
 
Meanwhile, new opiate substitution services have opened this year in Cork, Tralee and Wexford, and these will be followed shortly by facilities in Kilkenny, Waterford, Limerick, Dundalk and Drogheda. This is being done by the HSE with financial support from my Department. Further services in the Midlands are being actively considered. My Department has also provided funding for the provision of needle exchange and other services in Drogheda. Services commenced this month and will cover the North-East region. Also, progress is being made on the expanded provision of rehabilitation services, including detoxification facilities.
 
The report to which the Deputy refers indicates that 4,092 people availed of the organisation’s needle exchange service in 2009. This represents a reduction on the 2008 (4,657) and 2007 (4,705) figures. Also, the number of new needle exchange clients at 642 showed a continued decline from 2007. Overall, it is encouraging that injecting opiate users are making the first steps to access treatment services as this will help to reduce the risks of the spread of blood borne viruses, improve the overall health of individuals and is likely to encourage some opiate users, at least, to engage further with treatment and rehabilitation services.
 
I am determined that real progress will be maintained to implement the demand reduction actions of the National Drugs Strategy under its prevention, treatment and rehabilitation pillars. This will involve the continued working of all sectors in a co-ordinated and targeted way to achieve the implementation of the agreed actions.
 
Vol. 720 No. 4
Written Answers – National Drug Strategy
Wednesday 3 November
Item Type:Dail Debates
Source:Oireachtas
Date:3 November 2010
EndNote:View
Subjects:VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health services, substance use research
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health care programme or facility > Community-based treatment (primary care)
B Substances > Opioids (opiates) > Heroin
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health care programme or facility

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