More young addicts using dangerous drugs cocktail

THERE has been a dramatic rise in the number of young people abusing a cocktail of alcohol, cocaine and cannabis.

Tabor Lodge, situated in Minane Bridge, Co Cork, treated 214 people last year for dependency, of which more than 120 were young people who were "poly substance abusers."

The centre's administrator, Mike Devine, said yesterday that more and more young people were showing up with such traits.

"The profile of the chemically dependent person is getting younger. Alcohol abuse was always common, but poly-substance abuse is increasing. There is a big rise in the use of cocaine in Cork. Cocktails of cocaine, cannabis and alcohol are being used more and more by younger people," Mr Devine said.

He said cocaine use had obviously increased quite dramatically in recent years in Cork a fact borne out by increased seizures of the drug by gardaí.

"Cocaine is quite easily available in Cork and the addicted community knows where to get it," the centre administrator added.

Of the 214 people treated at the centre, 78 admitted themselves. The second highest figure, 44, came as referrals through family or friends while GPs accounted for 29 referrals. The vast majority, more than 150, were men.

Tabor Lodge doesn't take anybody under the age of 18, although those administering treatment are well aware that substance abuse has started several years before they meet their clients.

Last year the age bracket 25-34 saw an increase again with around 75 taking treatment. The second highest grouping was the 25-44 bracket while there were less then 10 people admitted between the ages of 55 and 64.

In 2003, Tabor Lodge treated 90 patients who were Social Welfare recipients, 80 who had private health care, 20 who were referred by the Probation and Welfare Services and approximately another 20 who paid the full cost of treatment themselves.

The average cost of treatment was €3,640, which meant to maintain the services for a year came to nearly €800,000.

Established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1989 to alleviate the damage and distress caused by addiction, the centre provides 28 days of residential treatment and a 52-week aftercare support service.

"We also provide a four-week family programme and a 12 evening programme with 52 weeks of aftercare support. And we deliver seminars to workplaces and the general public," Mr Devine stated.

Funding for the treatment centre comes from a variety of sources. The Southern Health Board and the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs assists recipients of Social Welfare who need treatment but can't afford it.

The VHI funds the treatment of alcoholism, drug and gambling addictions. To date the VHI does not fund treatment for eating disorders, which are also treated at Tabor Lodge.

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