Parents are 'hopelessly ignorant about drugs'
A LEADING social campaigner has warned there is little point in trying to educate teenagers about drugs because it is too late by then.
Fr Peter McVerry was speaking at the launch of a report by the Southern Regional Drugs Task Force, which found that almost 85pc of people who accessed treatment for drug addition in the region last year did so for alcohol-related problems.
But the conference also heard that there has been a 50pc increase in the consumption of heroin outside Dublin in recent years.
And Fr McVerry, who works with young homeless people in Dublin, told the Killarney conference that the war on drugs had already been lost and that "parents were hopelessly ignorant about the whole drugs culture".
Fr McVerry said going into the schools was a waste of time because it was parents who needed to be educated.
"We need to tell all parents there is a risk that their child will end up using drugs and they must be prepared for this," he said.
"I say to parents that if your child is over 15 you have to presume that they've tried drugs and you'd be very foolish to think they hadn't.
"We've relied on the criminal justice system to fight the war on drugs and it has failed. The fight has got to involve the whole community."
Fr McVerry said crack cocaine was becoming the drug of choice for many in Dublin.
"I wish we were back with the heroin problem. When someone came to us on heroin we knew what we were dealing with, but with crack cocaine you better watch out. And the next wave that's going to hit Ireland is crystal meth.
"Once this gets a hold you'd need to build a high wall around your house and get a good burglar alarm," he said.
There are 24 drugs task forces in the country made up of 14 local task forces mainly in Dublin and one in Cork, and 10 regional task forces. Each one is represented on the national drugs advisory group.
Speaking at the launch of the report yesterday, head of addiction services for HSE, Liam Keane, said 1,162 people had availed of after services in the Cork and Kerry region in 2009.
"The drugs task force is a social response to the problem of addiction rather than a criminal response and I think this is the only way the problem can be tackled," Mr Keane said.