Drug treatment centres shut due to user incidents

Three drug treatment services had to close temporarily because of problems in dealing with drug users taking new psychoactive substances (NPS).

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Staff were confronted by clients suffering severe agitation, aggression and even violence as a result of taking the synthetic drugs.

The findings are contained in a report on NPS by the European Drugs Agency.

The report documents that significant harms are being posed to certain problematic users, including marginalised groups such as injecting drug users, the homeless and prisoners.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction is currently monitoring 620 NPS, formerly known as head shop drugs.

The main drugs are synthetic cathinones (which mimic MDMA and cocaine); and synthetic cannabinoids (which mimic cannabis); as well as synthetic opioids (mimicing heroin); and synthetic benzodiazepines.

The report said synthetic cathinone injection, involving the substance alpha-PVP, has been linked with increased HIV and hepatitis C transmission in Ireland.

The report said there are also social harms: “In Ireland, three Dublin drug treatment services have reportedly closed (and later reopened) because of problems dealing with synthetic cathinone users (mephedrone and alpha-PVP) and management of difficult client behaviour (eg severe agitation, aggression and violence in users).”

Tony Duffin of Ana Liffey Drugs Project said: “One of these services was the Ana Liffey drop-in which closed for a short period to allow the team to engage with people one-to-one.”

Meanwhile, community activists in west Dublin are holding a protest today at the closure of a local drug project. Four community representatives on the Blanchardstown Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force claim a group exclusively comprised of HSE staff are managing the closure of ADAPT CDT (Community Drug Team).

“This is a major break with 20 years of collaborative, community-led drug service development in Dublin West and has implications across the whole country,” said Phillip Keegan, one of the reps.

They are holding a protest outside the offices of the BLDATF in Mulhuddart village today at 4pm.

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