60% of those treated for drug use are teens

HEROIN and tranquillisers are the most common drugs resulting in treatment after alcohol and cannabis in Cork and Kerry.

A new report shows that a quarter of drug users receiving treatment in the south report problematic use of four different substances.

The 2010 annual report of the Southern Regional Drugs Task Force shows that nearly 60% of those being treated are teenagers — more than half of them aged 17 or under.

The report said that “one of the most important initiatives” in 2010 was the drafting of a heroin strategy, in response to the threat posed by the drug.

The report noted an increase in the use of benzodiazepines, a group of tranquillisers including drugs like Valium, towards the end of 2010.

The regional task force does not cover Cork city, which has its own local task force. Data on the drugs that people were treated for show:

47% (141 people) reported alcohol as their problem drug.

27% (82) reported cannabis use.

11% (32) reported opiates, mainly heroin.

5% (15) reported benzodiazepines.

Only a small number of people reported cocaine or ecstasy as problem drugs.

The report said that 63% of those treated complained of problematic use of more than one drug. Almost one quarter (23%) reported problematic use of four drugs.

In terms of ages, 35% (106 people) were aged 17 or under and 22% (67) were aged 18-19. A further 19% (58) were aged between 20 and 24. Some 72% of individuals said they were living with their parents.

Educational details show that 23% (70) left school after their Junior Cert and that 6% (18) left after primary school. Details were unknown in 30% of cases.

Some 30% of people completed their treatment, 42% refused to take part in further sessions, while 20% said they did not want to attend more sessions as they considered themselves to be stable.

Task force coordinator Chris Black said 2010 was a difficult year, with funding reduced for a second year in a row. Their budget was cut by 16%, from €1.3 million in 2009 to €1.1m in 2010.

He said that, as a result, funding for community drug initiatives were “significantly reduced”, but said that, in most cases, they continued to offer the same level of service, in terms of staffing hours on the ground.

The report said that three separate pub watch schemes were launched in 2010 — covering Midleton, Carrigtwhohill and Cloyne — with the aim of curbing public order incidents.

The Dial to Stop Drug Dealing Campaign was relaunched during the year, with 63 reports in Kerry and 83 in Cork in 2010.

Two Strengthening Families programmes were run in 2010, involving 11 families (13 parents and 12 young people) in Mitchelstown and eight families (12 parents and 12 young people) in Midleton. Of these a total of 21 parents and 19 young people graduated.


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