The Problem Of Drug Use In Rural Ireland
The tragic story of a Cork woman who lost three sons to heroin overdoses in the space of just three years appeared in the papers today.
There is a tendency to associate drug problems with inner-city Dublin, but just how extensive has it become in rural areas?
Tony Geoghegan, Chief Executive of Merchant's Quay Ireland, explained the scale of the problem: "Last year people from 18 different counties came through our detox and rehab services in Cork."
"There is a significant problem outside Dublin and it's probably on the increase. While there are still problems with access to treatment in Dublin, they pale into insignificance compared to the issues outside of Dublin."
Anne Buckley, presenter of the TV3 documentary My War on Drugs, was addicted to heroin and methadone for 17 years and has been clean for six years. She spoke about the challenges of recovering from addiction.
"You have to learn everything all over again - it's basically like coming out of a coma. Your nervous system and brain are in shock because all your experiences have been through chemicals."
Anne says a lot of people develop addiction problems due to trauma.
"It could be trauma from something that happened in your life, economics, the stresses of the external environment. We seem to always want to treat the body and not the mind, but you can't separate the two."
"It seems to be devastating areas in rural Ireland and you need to get resources there."
Garrett McGovern is a GP specialising in addiction treatment at the Priory Medical Clinic in Dundrum.
"The problem has gone beyond Dublin for many years, but unfortunately the treatment hasn't gone with it," he said.
"The reality is that not only are heroin users stigmatised, but a lot of people who treat them are too so a lot of doctors don't want to go near it."