Charity calls for alcohol and pharma industries to fund addiction services

The alcohol and pharmaceutical industries should use some of their profits to fund addiction services, a leading drug charity has said.

Charity calls  for alcohol and pharma industries to fund addiction services

Coolmine Therapeutic Community made the call after a sharp increase in alcohol, cocaine and benzodiazepine abuse among its clients.

The agency, celebrating its 40th birthday this year, is launching a community-based alcohol programme later in the year to reach out to the growing numbers abusing the drug.

Coolmine said the alcohol and benzodiazepine problem was particularly strong in Dublin, but pointed out that over half of their clients are from outside Dublin, where the main problem drug is opiates, particularly heroin.

Publishing their annual report yesterday, Pauline McKeown, Coolmine chief executive, said the rise in alcohol and benzodiazepine use was a major concern. “There has been a dramatic rise in addiction to this cocktail. We believe this is due to the ease of access to alcohol and benzodiazepine. Also it is not an offence to have these two drugs in your possession.”

Benzodiazepines are available on prescription and are also illicitly traded in massive quantities on the street.

Ms McKeown called on the pharmaceutical and alcohol industries to “become stakeholders” with the health services, medical profession and therapeutic communities to support and fund services fighting addiction.

“As the problem grows, we ask pharmaceuticals and alcohol companies to contribute to funding the programmes and facilities, like Coolmine, to make sure that there is a practical plan to prevent misuse of drugs and alcohol and to help those with addictions.”

The report showed there was a 37% increase in admissions across all its services in 2012, which they met despite a cut in government funding. But a grant from the Department of Health enabled its threatened mother-and-baby residential service — the only one in the country — to continue.

Ms McKeown said this service was crucial not just for the mothers but also the children, many of whom have emotional and behavioural needs.

She said the project in Ashleigh House provided an opportunity to “break the cycle of addiction” and also reduce the risk of the children getting involved in problem drug use, crime or ending up in institutional care.

* www.coolmine.ie

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