Home > Street tablet use in Ireland: a Trendspotter study on use, markets, and harms.

Duffin, Tony and Keane, Marcus and Millar, Sean R (2020) Street tablet use in Ireland: a Trendspotter study on use, markets, and harms. Dublin: Ana Liffey Drug Project.

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The non-medical use of prescription drugs is a global health concern. In the Republic of Ireland, converging signals of the ongoing non-medical use of pharmaceuticals (‘street tablets’) among clients of community-based, drug harm reduction service agencies in Dublin were noted in 2018. These included significant levels of street tablet use among service clients, an increase in the prevalence of pregabalin in drug-related deaths data since 2015, and reports of online purchasing of tablets for the Irish market. To understand these recent trends, the present study was deemed necessary.

‘Street tablets’ is a generic term used to describe drugs that come in either tablet or capsule form. Street tablets can be considered as any tablets or capsules which are not obtained directly by the individual through a doctor or pharmacist.

Experts who took part in this research identified a number of issues which could help to manage the street tablet market. In terms of preventing leakage from the legitimate sources, a robust electronic prescribing system could help better control access, and might help prevent ‘doctor shopping’. However, it was also noted that care is needed not to inadvertently divert people to the street market to seek access to tablets. There is also a need to understand and be effective in addressing why individuals are using tablets in the first place, and therefore able to address the reasons why people have to access the tablet market. In this context, supporting medical professionals to better understand and be equipped to address the demand encountered is important, as is the need to get existing public health and harm reduction messaging into novel market spaces, such as the online environment.

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