Self-harm on rise for young drug users

Addiction experts have seen an increase in self-harm rates and mental health problems among adolescents seeking help for multi-drug addiction in Cork.

They have also found an increase in the level and intensity of bullying, cyber bullying and a rise in the presence of serious drug debts.

The trends have been identified by the Matt Talbot Services in Cork which will present its findings at a conference in the city this week as part of Cork Drugs Awareness Week.

Matt Talbot Services works with people aged between 14 and 23 at four centres in the city and county.

In 2010, it began a collaboration with University College Cork’s Schools of Applied Psychology and School of Pharmacy which helped it to analyse the needs of its users and design a service to match their needs.

Dr Sharon Lambert, the manager of Matt Talbot Services, said they have seen several new trends emerge. She said more young people were presenting with mental health issues — the most commonly reported diagnoses were depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, and behavioural disorders.

There has also been an increase in self-harm rates in line with national rates, often noticed during an economic recession, she said. “The figures for Matt Talbot Services for the first half of 2012 are 40% or 33 out of 119 had attempted suicide,” she said.

“On a positive note no service user had died as a result of suicide in that period.

“This is evidence that talking therapies for those experiencing difficulties with their emotions can help them deal with their issues and we strongly encourage young people who are feeling stressed and down to talk to someone about their thoughts and feelings.”

Dr Lambert said Cork is leading the way in drug and alcohol treatment for adolescents. No other adolescent service in the country offers such a vast continuum of care from day treatment to residential to training and education, she said.

The sixth Cork Drugs Awareness Week, organised by the Cork Local Drug Task Force, which began yesterday, aims to raise awareness about drug and alcohol issues, and highlight services available to people. Events, including acupuncture, poetry readings, coffee mornings, drug and alcohol training, and information sessions, will take place at 15 locations across the city.

A non-denominational memorial service will take place in the SMA Church in Wilton on Thursday to remember those affected by addiction or self-harm.

Information pods highlighting the dangers of alcohol will be set up in Mahon Point, Merchants Quay, and Blackpool shopping centres between 2pm and 4pm tomorrow and Saturday. There will also be a drug-and alcohol-free rock concert at Brian Dillons GAA Club in Mayfield on Friday.

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