A study has identified Cork’s quays and nearby streets as blackspots for drug injecting and as possible sites for a supervised injecting centre.
The research, which involved interviews with 51 drug injectors and the use of GPS technology, maps out the locations of where injecting and overdoses are concentrated.
Oliver Plunkett St Lower, Grand Parade, and the Grenville Place/Henry St area are identified as possible locations for a supervised injecting facility (SIF).
The study details the locations of 58 fatal overdoses and 47 non-fatal overdoses in the city, though the time period is not stated.
A pilot SIF in Dublin city centre is going through a lengthy planning process. The move followed a landmark Government decision in December 2015 to trial such a facility.
The Cork Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Force and the HSE have expressed interest in examining such a facility in Cork — but the HSE has said that any such centre will depend on the success or otherwise of the Dublin pilot.
The study was conducted by John Aidan Horan of Arbour House, HSE Addiction Services, Cork, and Marie Claire Van Hout, who is attached to the Public Health Institute of Liverpool John Moores University.
The users interviewed provided researchers with information about where they injected, where they had accidental (non-fatal) overdoses, where they knew of an overdose death, and where they themselves would like a SIF to be located.
Using these co-ordinates, computer software generated maps of the data, showing the concentration on the problem in the city centre, with a number of particular clusters.
Three main clusters of fatal overdoses and injecting sites were:
In addition, other clusters were identified around Wellington Rd/Summerhill North/Lower Glanmire area; Pope’s Quay, and Richmond Hill.
In relation to users’ preferred locations for a SIF, three main areas were identified: Oliver Plunkett St Lower; Grand Parade and Grenville Place/Henry St.
Other possible locations included Pope’s Quay and Horgan’s Quay.
“The aim of the study was to map the location of current injecting practices of people who inject drugs [PWID] in Cork and to document the related high-risk behaviours, ahead of a planned supervised injecting facility,” said the report.
It said the research emphasised the importance of consulting PWID in locating possible SIF sites.
“The findings are intended to inform SIF location,” says the study.
Ultimately, the benefits of this mapping study are to inform the new national drugs strategy. This could improve treatment for persons who inject drugs and reduce waiting times for those wishing to access treatment.
The 51 injectors interviewed during the summer of 2017 ranged in age 20-55 and 43% of them were homeless.
The research identified 58 fatal overdoses, 36 of them occurring in a private home, 11 in a public building and a further 11 in the open/on the street.
Of the 47 accidental, non-fatal overdoses, 20 were in private accommodation, 15 in a public building, and 12 on the street.
The study pointed out that many homeless people injected in their homeless emergency accommodation which was classed as private accommodation.
Nine out of 10 respondents knew of someone who had died from an overdose.
The study, published in the journal Heroin Addiction and Related Clinical Problems, said a 2017 cost-benefit analysis estimated that, for every dollar spent on a SIF, $2.33 would be saved.