Junkie capital: Dubliners turning to heroin at the rate of 10 a week startling new figures show
HEROIN use in Dublin soared last year despite a drought in the drug for almost four months, it has been revealed.
Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) said it supported 4,308 clients in the capital in 2010, including 575 new injectors attending needle exchange clinics.
Tony Geoghegan, chief executive, said the figure averaged more than 10 new users a week, highlighting that demand for drugs remained constant.
"I think it's significant there was still an increase in clients despite the fact there was practically no heroin on the streets from September to after Christmas," he said.
"This year's figures are up again."
Some 4,092 drug users had attended the Dublin centre in 2009, including 642 new injectors.
Mr Geoghegan said demand for both homeless and drugs services was growing rapidly as the recession continued, yet finances were contracting.
It gave 57,840 meals to homeless people during the year - a 26pc jump from 2009 when 45,710 meals were provided.
"Our response has been to expand and develop our services on the tightest budget possible to meet this need," he added.
He said there was also evidence of a strong link between homelessness and drug use, with over one-third of admissions at one residential treatment programme being clients who were previously homeless.
Elsewhere, the report showed drug problems were continuing to grow rapidly outside of Dublin, with more than 20% of clients accessing residential rehabilitation services from the greater Cork region.
Measures by the agency during the year included increasing national bed detox capacity by 30% and establishing new initiatives to meet increasing needs of members of the travelling community and users in the midlands.
The agency, which is now delivering services in 11 counties across Ireland, is also on the threshold of opening a new 10 bed detox unit in in Tullow, Co Carlow, which will increase capacity to 24.
"It is important to highlight the fact that drug treatment works, both on the human and on the economic level," added Mr Geoghegan.
"Most of all, investing in all of these areas, such as our new detox unit, reduces the misery associated with drug use and homelessness for the individual, their families, their communities and society as a whole."