IN A BID to tackle the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse across Limerick, a new “community substance team” is to be dedicated to one of the county towns.
At a conference organised by the Mid-West Drugs Task Force and UL this week, drugs worker Maria Finn revealed plans for a team to be located either in Newcastle West or Kilmallock to provide support to vulnerable people in rural communities.
They will not only help those addicted to illegal substances, but also propose alternative solutions to use of drugs like antidepressants.
An offshoot of the Mid-West Regional Drugs Task force’s main drugs centre in Mallow Street, Limerick City, the county team will work with GPs, and social workers, in a bid to help those struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.
Michael Lacy, chairman of the task force - which exists to provide a co-ordinated response to a co-ordinated response to illicit drug use at regional level - said the team will be established to bridge the urban/rural divide.
“The aim of it will be to operate across the region. The team’s main office will be in Limerick, but we will have satellite centres working with GPs, and families, under 18s and those who are vulnerable,” he said.
More than 100 people attended Wednesday’s conference, which was held at the Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel.
Codenamed ‘The Community Speaks: Substance Misuse and Professional Practice’, it has been in the planning for two years.
It was designed to bring together community representatives, those from the voluntary sector, and those who have experienced abuse first hand, to develop responses to drug problems.
The community led facility in Co Limerick is one of the first examples of the strategy beginning to work.
“This centre is very much a collaborative initiative. The reason we are setting up this centre is two fold: it is a response from the community, and the fact these resources are not yet available in these rural communities,” Mr Lacy said.
Mr Lacy said in rural communities, the most abused drugs are alcohol and tobacco.
Co-organiser of the conference Dr Patricia Mannix McNamara added: “This is an example of the community, and what can be achieved with the community’s support. Access to support [in the county] is more limited. This is a huge issue that we need to look at.”
Sinn Fein’s Limerick City councillor Maurice Quinlivan, a community representative on the mid-west drugs task force, said it is crucial there is fast movement on bringing a drug support centre to both the county and city.
He does not believe nearly enough has been done by either previous governments, or this.
“Limerick City for instance has no local drugs task force. We have no detoxification centre. We clearly have a worsening drugs problem. Heroin is a problem across the city, in places like Kilrush and Roscrea and across the region,” he told the conference.