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Drug Abuse and its Solution in Ireland

Heroin abuse began as an urban phenomenon that grew steadily in Dublin the early 1980’s. By 1983 the Bradshaw Report found that 10% of 15 to 24 year olds in north central Dublin had used heroin in the previous year. The figure was 12% for 15- to 19-year-olds, and 13% for females. This report confirmed Dublin as a serious heroin abuse center. Only three or four heroin users were recorded in Cork and Galway. But that was only the beginning of a journey to Hell.

Community Resistance

As the problem exploded in the 1980’s community groups organized themselves to rid their communities of drug dealers. Resident associations including priests, politicians and even Provisional Sinn Fein members in Dublin communities such as Fatima Mansions, the Hardwicke Street flats, St. Teresa’s Gardens, and Dolphin House met to name and shame the drug dealers in their communities. They marched on the residences of drug dealers demanding they either stop dealing drug or leave the area. Action broadened out to include resident patrols, community checkpoints, vehicles drug searches, forced evictions and other community actions. These community groups came together in February 1984 naming themselves “Concerned Parents Against Drugs” and adopting a constitution. Although vilified by politicians and the mainstream media their success in ridding their communities of drug dealers was spectacular.

Community Problem – Community Solution

The drug problem whether it be heroin, cocaine or otherwise, is impacting on every community at every level of society in Ireland, both north and south. That makes it a community problem and community problems have and must have community solutions. We must face the fact that the police forces, both north and south are failing miserably despite headline drug seizures to curtail the drug problem to any measureable extent.

With the Blarney case and others throughout the country implicating both rogue Gardaí and PSNI members in the use and distribution of drugs, especially cocaine, both forces are seriously compromised in this respect with little or no credibility remaining. Their failure to curtail the problem is evident for all to see.

When the problem first exploded in the 1980’s community groups organized themselves to rid their communities of drug dealers and their actions were very successful. Resident associations named, shamed and confronted the drug dealers in their communities. Dealers were given the option to either stop dealing drug or leave the area. Action grew to include resident patrols, community checkpoints, vehicles drug searches, forced evictions and other community actions. Community groups must again come together and take action as they did in the 1980’s and drive the drug dealers out of their communities. Nothing else will work. Drugs are openly sold with impunity from Dublin’s Liffey board Walk to rural school grounds. A generation of Irelands youth will be destroyed unless this drug scourge is stopped and only community action is the only effective solution. The authorities don’t like community power in action but their abject failure leaves no option to communities but to organize and rid their communities of drug dealers.

Drugs Spread in Ireland

Heroin abuse in Ireland arose mainly in Dublin, and in Cork City to a much lesser extent. The heroin abuse problem took off in inner-city Dublin in the late 1970’s. There was no earlier evidence of anything more than a few isolated cases. Limited instances of cannabis and LSD use was noted earlier than that. The spread of Illicit drugs in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland has grown at a dramatic rate since the mid1970’s. That includes the use of psychedelic drugs including LSD, cannabis and other substances by young people. The Opiate abuse mainly heroin only became common in 1980’s. with Dublin and Ballymena as the main centers of heroin abuse.

The 1990’s Continuing Scourge

Ireland by now had an admitted major drugs problem, mainly heroin. At this point Ireland’s heroin problem was still mainly confined to Dublin. There were an estimated 13,460 opiate or heroin abusers in Ireland in 1996. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ireland was mostly spread by dirty needle use among intravenous drug users. Treatment centers required a commitment from patient to achieve abstinence from drugs. The HIV epidemic led to a 1992 policy of harm reduction recognizing that the harms of drug abuse, such as the spread of HIV was of greater danger to society than drug use itself.

Paramilitary Drug Pushers

In the very late 1980’s and early ’90’s, a rogue Irish republican revolutionary socialist outfit calling itself the “IPLO” (Irish People’s Liberation Organization) imported huge amounts of Ecstasy pills also known as “E’s” (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) ) into Ireland. The IPLO started drug dealing in early 1989 and at €25 per pill, they made huge profits from drug dealing. The pills were sourced in Amsterdam. Some were sold in Dublin, but the bulk of the E’s were sold in Belfast where the IPLO was at its strongest. In October 1992 the Provisional IRA’s Belfast Brigade took effective action and wiped out the IPLO in Belfast.

Enter Cocaine

Like the Genii being out of the bag drugs are now out of the bag in Ireland and are wreaking havoc throughout the country. Cocaine sneaked silently into use in the 1990’s or even earlier as a hidden habit among business types and affluent city dwellers who were good at hiding their drug abuse. But inevitably it got out of the bag. Gardaí and drug workers say the use of cocaine has now spread into even the smallest rural communities. According to Gardaí, doctors and drug treatment workers there is a significant difference between the affluent Celtic Tiger cocaine use leading up to 2007 and its widespread use in 2023.

Before the problem was largely confined to the affluent in cities and large towns. Today cocaine is being used in even the smallest village in rural Ireland. The cliché of cocaine being the drug of choice for Dublin’s dinner party society is no long the case. The average user is now likely to be “a farmer, a nurse or even a member of the Gardaí”, according to one source. There is no longer an average consumer as it has become universally prevalent. It is now sundering the very fabric of Irish society our source said.

Cocaine’s Upward Spike

Cocaine once Irelands drug of choice among the more affluent in our society is on a sharp upward spike in use throughout society with a 171% increase in the number of those being treated between 2011 and 2019. Its widespread use is beginning to have noticeable knock-on effects in abuser’s work performance leading to absenteeism, and erratic behaviour. There are growing and worrying behavioural instances where cocaine users are engaging erratically, becoming irritated and snapping at work colleagues. HR departments are experiencing an increasing volume of problems related to cocaine abuse including users asking for wage advances and loans to feed their coke habit. As a result of the prevalence of cocaine abuse today’s working environment is becoming a darker and more dangerous place. The problem of substance abuse in the workplaces is that no one knows how to deal with it. Hospitalisation as a result of drug abuse.

Drug Addiction

All illicit drugs have a detrimental effect on their user’s health and or cognitive and physical performance. Theirs is an addiction and not a habit and the admission of that is the vital first step to a solution. Drug addiction is considered to be a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions between one’s environment, brain circuits, genetics, life experiences and life expectancy. Drug addicts continue to compulsively use drugs despite the negative effects. Substance abuse has many potential consequences, including overdose and even death. The drug problem is a community problem and community problems have and must have community solutions as explained above. It is now time for community solutions.

Dealing with Drug Addiction

Instead of being a victim the drug addict can take action, take back their power and take back their life instead of being a host for a drug dealing parasite. The solution starts with;

  1. Admission of the existence of the problem
  2. Taking responsibility for it
  3. Willingness to work at overcoming it
  4. Taking action to overcome it
  5. Persisting with treatment.


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