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Home > Fighting back: women, and the impact of drug abuse on families and communities.

Murhpy-Lawless, Jo (2002) Fighting back: women, and the impact of drug abuse on families and communities. Dublin: Liffey Press.

The introduction of heroin in the early 1980s into the north inner city of Dublin, an area already experiencing the consequences of economic dislocation and social damage, had a profoundly debilitating effect on families and local communities. This was felt particularly keenly by women who had to raise families through a period of deep crisis. This book examines the experiences of women facing the problem of heroin use amongst their children and extended family and who organised to protect and create a better environment for the young people of these communities.

The book draws on information gathered through background interviews with people working in the communities affected by the heroin problem and meetings and interviews with 29 women in four different groups in the inner city, conducted over a 10-month period. The impact of heroin and the manner in which women tackled this and other problems facing their communities through effective grassroots organisation is revealed through these interviews. A number of those interviewed describe their experiences of anti-drugs marches and direct action campaigns beginning in the mid 1990s.

Women's involvement in this type of activism was spurred largely by official indifference or lack of response to the problems they faced every day. Work with community-based groups led to important advances for women in education, growing self-confidence, and overcoming the sense of isolation felt by many of them. Recent advances based on a social economy model of development and the establishment of support structures to deal with the drugs problem in the wider community and family contexts are welcome. However, their success will largely depend on the establishment of democratic decision-making structures that can draw on the skills, experience and energy of women active in their own communities.

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