Home > Brass Munkie winter 2020 issue published.

Dillon, Lucy (2021) Brass Munkie winter 2020 issue published. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 77, Spring 2021, pp. 50-51.

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UISCE, the Union for Improved Services, Communication and Education for People Who Use Drugs, published the 37th issue of Brass Munkie in winter 2020.1 UISCE has been publishing the newsletter since 1992, with content written by service users and service providers. It includes news, interviews with service providers and users, information about services, advice about harm reduction interventions, opinion pieces, and other outputs, such as poems, relevant to the experiences of people who use drugs (PWUD). Brass Munkie covers a wide range of topics and the latest issue is no exception. Just some of the content of issue 37 is outlined in this article.

Brass Munkie issue 37, winter 2020


Work of UISCE

Central to UISCE’s mission is working with service users to advocate for their needs. As an organisation it recognises the importance of representatives from the PWUD community to be part of policymaking and working groups that affect them. To support this and other elements of their work, UISCE is further developing its peer support work and looking for peer-led outreach volunteers for whom they will provide training. UISCE’s role as an advocate is also illustrated through the experience of one of their service users who needed support in making a complaint to their service provider.

Recovery Academy Ireland

Despite the barriers presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, seven people with lived experience completed their training with Recovery Academy Ireland as peer-to-peer recovery coaches in September 2020, having started the process in October 2019. Training included five days as a group and a placement in an addiction service, during which they completed 300 hours of recovery coaching. Interviews with two recovery coaches who completed the training show the benefits for both those who accessed their support and themselves as trainees. They describe a process through which they learned more about the value of peer-to-peer support and having a shared lived experience, gained confidence in their abilities, as well as having improved their chances of gaining employment: ‘education will open employment doors for me’ (p. 12).

National Family Support Network

The National Family Support Network (NFSN) works to support families who are impacted by a loved one’s substance use. Covid-19 presented challenges to the delivery of its work, which tends to be face-to-face with individual families or groups. Rather than closing their services, those involved nationally continue to provide support online or over the telephone. Among the additional challenges facing the families due to the pandemic were:

  • An increase in the number of families being impacted by drug-related intimidation, often for smaller amounts of debt
  • Increased alcohol use in the family
  • Increased occurrence of domestic violence.

Overdose awareness and naloxone training in Covid

A priority for UISCE is its work on overdose response and naloxone training. During 2020, it continued to train staff and peers on how to respond to an opioid overdose and administer naloxone, as well as distributing kits to people at risk of overdose. UISCE adapted its materials, training, and practices to take account of Covid-19. This work was carried out in collaboration with other stakeholders, including staff from Merchants Quay Ireland and the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Naloxone Implementation Project.

Other inputs

Other services contributing to this issue included Care After Prison; Donore Community Drug and Alcohol Team; Drug Related Intimidation Initiative; Sex Workers Alliance Ireland; North East Inner City Initiative; and the HSE. Among contributions from service users was an opinion piece by Rick Shaw entitled ‘Unintended consequences and good intentions’, which focuses the need for more investment by Government to address the root causes of poverty and addiction. While he expresses gratitude to those who work hard to provide services, the author considers current provision to be just ‘a band aid over an amputation, utterly inadequate for the issue at hand’ (p. 36).

As a publication, Brass Munkie highlights the complex challenges faced by service users, PWUD more broadly, and service providers. This issue illustrates how these challenges have been accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it also demonstrates the ingenuity and commitment of all involved in their efforts to keep services running and to continue to meet the needs of PWUD.


1 UISCE (2020) Brass Munkie, 37, Winter. Dublin: Union for Improved Services, Communication and Education for People Who Use Drugs (UISCE). https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/33680/

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Rehabilitation/Recovery
Issue Title
Issue 77, Spring 2021
June 2021
Page Range
pp. 50-51
Health Research Board
Issue 77, Spring 2021

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