THE city’s head of homeless services has called for the introduction of diazepam clinics in Limerick in a bid to tackle prescription drug abuse.
At present, methadone treatment programmes in the city are in place to help a heroin addicts. But a drugs conference heard two weeks ago that there has been an increase in the abuse of prescription medicines such as Valium.
Now, Rob Lowth, coordinator of the Limerick Homeless Centre, believes diazepam clinics need to be set up along the same lines to help the growing number of people addicted to the drug, often prescribed as a way of counter-acting withdrawal symptoms from illegal substances.
He added that doctors in the city are too willing to repeat prescribe the substance, used mainly for treating anxiety, insomnia, seizures and spasms, to move people on from their surgery.
And he says “almost everybody” he meets in his line of work is on some form of the drug.
“We would see younger people with more aggressive behaviour come in. We see different types of addiction now. The benzodiazepine era is very much in the foreground. It is almost like everybody is on some kind of diazepam, prescribed by a doctor who just wants to control their behaviour, or get them out their surgery,” Mr Lowth told the Limerick Leader.
“We have methadone clinics where people are urine tested. But there should also be diazepam clinics,” he concluded.
Northside Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan, a member of the Mid-West drugs task-force agreed, saying: “I am very convinced, and disturbed that a small number of GPs are over-prescribing. They are doing it as a quick fix to a solution, and it is not really helping matters.”
Cllr Quinlivan added: “People come to me for housing, and other issues, and they will tell me they are on prescription drugs, and have been for a number of years.”
The Mid-West Drugs Task Force is working to increase the information around the dangers of using prescription drugs long-term, the creation of a support group, and a drop in service to provide practical and moral support to users.