Parents in a disadvantaged part of Dublin complain of an “underlying fear of intimidation or worse” in their community caused by an endemic drugs trade and anti-social behaviour.
New research found that many parents in Jobstown, west Tallaght, just want to “keep their head down” and not let the reality of drugs come into their home.
Research commissioned by Jobstown Assisting Drug Dependency found that four out of 10 parents surveyed were concerned about the drugs trade in the area, with half of parents saying they were “very concerned”.
A survey of 355 people conducted by Amárach Research found that 36% of them said drugs were the biggest problem in their area, making it the number one issue locally.
This was followed by anti-social behaviour or “groups of young men”, with 26% of people saying it was the biggest problem.
Around 13% said a lack of activities for children was the main problem.
Following that came crime (10%); poor/ unsafe public transport (6%); rubbish (6%); vandalism (5%); carjacking or joyrding (4%); and unemployment (3%).
Interviews with parents found that their focus in relation to drugs was “keep it from their own doorstep” and that, in many cases, they did not want to know about it.
Researchers said that by facing the reality of drugs it would make it more real and threatening as well as bring up numerous concerns, including security matters.
“There is an underlying fear of intimidation or worse,” said the researchers. “Usage and dealing are widespread. They want to keep their head down.”
Amárach Research said that parents with direct experience of drug use on family members took a “harder, more direct educational approach with their children”.
It said political representatives and community leaders saw the drugs problem as “endemic”.
The body said: “They see the issue of deprivation, educational engagement and experience as core causes of the problem.”
“They see the problem of addiction to prescription medicine as being just as problematic (and as widespread as illegal drug use) and often a gateway to a broader drug dealing and drug usage habit.”
The research was published at the launch of a new campaign, Be Smart Be Safe, aimed at supporting families to tune into the prevalence and risks of polydrug use, such as prescription drugs, alcohol and recreational drugs.
Speaking at the launch, Rebekah Brennan, a lecturer at University College Cork, detailed research she was conducting in the area, including links between trauma and substance misuse.
She cited the increased use of pregabalin, which is known as Lyrica, a prescription painkiller and opiate.
She said users may get it first on prescription or from the street and move from one source to the other.
Jobstown Assisting Drug Dependency co-ordinator Shane Hamilton, said:
“We have situations, and this is not unique to Jobstown, where people are getting daily texts on ‘special offers’ on drugs available. People can buy counterfeit prescription drugs on Facebook,” he said.
Sarah Cummins of Barnardos Lorien Project in Tallaght said parental substance misuse was recognised as an adverse experience or trauma for children and that many parents don’t see the connection between their own actions and the behaviour of their children.