Conference in Limerick highlights dangers of ‘legal’ drugs

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

THE dangers of using prescription drugs to counter withdrawal symptoms from the use of illegal substances have been highlighted at a conference in the city.

THE dangers of using prescription drugs to counter withdrawal symptoms from the use of illegal substances have been highlighted at a conference in the city.

More than 100 people from agencies and groups were at the Greenhills Hotel for the conference, organised by the Mid-West Regional Drugs Task Force.

It also doubled as an information session on the services available to help drug users, with the Northstar Family Support Project, Novas Initiatives, and ADAPT House having stands there.

A major report on the dangers of self-detoxification processes in the region, by Dr Marie Claire Van Hout and Tim Bingham, was also launched by Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan.

The study - funded by the task force - is designed to increase awareness of this, by drawing on the experiences of family members of individuals, and those who have self-medicated using drugs such as Benzodiazepines.

Three recommendations were made, including increased provision of information, the creation of a support group which has had experiences of detoxification in the home, and a drop-in service to provide referrals.

Drugs task force chairman Mick Lacey said the use of pharmaceutical drugs has become a big issue since the downturn in the economy.

“There is a tendency for people with mental health problems to self-medicate, and a lot of drug users would have this problem. There is a direct correlation between socio-economic conditions and drug abuse, and given the current climate, it is inevitable the situation will deteriorate,” explained Mr Lacey.

In response, Ms O’Sullivan said the Department of Health is reviewing the legislation under the Misuse of Drugs regulations for stricter control over the use of these substances.