Belfast Telegraph

Heroin users 'on the increase'

Heroin use in Dublin soared last year despite a drought in the drug for almost four months, it has been revealed.

Merchants Quay Ireland said it supported 4,308 clients in the capital in 2010, including 575 new injectors attending needle exchange clinics.

Tony Geoghegan, chief executive, said the figure averaged more than 10 new users a week, highlighting that demand for drugs remained constant.

"I think it's significant there was still an increase in clients despite the fact there was practically no heroin on the streets from September to after Christmas," he said. "This year's figures are up again."

Some 4,092 drug users had attended the Dublin centre in 2009, including 642 new injectors.

Mr Geoghegan said demand for both homeless and drugs services was growing rapidly as the recession continued, yet finances were contracting.

"Our response has been to expand and develop our services on the tightest budget possible to meet this need," he added.

Elsewhere, the report showed drug problems were continuing to grow rapidly outside of Dublin, with more than 20% of clients accessing residential rehabilitation services from the greater Cork region.

"It is important to highlight the fact that drug treatment works, both on the human and on the economic level," added Mr Geoghegan.

"Most of all, investing in all of these areas, such as our new detox unit, reduces the misery associated with drug use and homelessness for the individual, their families, their communities and society as a whole."

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