Tackling waiting lists is key
Fine Gael Cork Senator Jerry Buttimer has reiterated his Party’s call for a crisis action plan to be put in place to help deal with the proliferation of heroin use in Cork City and the scourge of drugs nationwide.
“Recent figures reveal that the number of heroin has users doubled between 2002 and 2008. Despite two national drugs strategies and additional resources being given to Gardaí, the scourge of heroin continues unabated with the result that there has been a massive rise in the number seeking help for addiction.
“In the south alone there has been a staggering 240% increase with the number of new treatment cases for opiates skyrocketing from 21 to 71 during this time. These figures highlight just how much those who are struggling with addiction are being failed.
“In some regions, waiting lists for methadone treatment are more than a year long and while I recognise that there are budgetary limitations, further cuts will only lead to a lengthening of these lists. In short, if we cut front-line services, we will accentuate the problem.
“In 2008 and 2009 heroin abuse claimed the lives of 20 people in Cork City. In 1996 in Arbour House Treatment Centre in Cork only four people attended for treatment for heroin addiction. By 2008 this had grown to 200 people and a further 150 on the waiting list by 2009. The delay in setting up treatment services only played into the hands of the drugs barons who feed on the vulnerability of those addicts on waiting lists.
“The National Drugs Strategy suggested that people be assessed and treated within one month of presenting themselves which is clearly not the case. Those who are fighting this battle are doing so uphill. We need to tackle the problem at source by getting into our schools and educating our kids before it is too late. We must also ensure that a crisis action plan is implemented, the aim of which is must be to address the waiting lists for treatment services and attempt to prevent heroin use growing further.”