Saturday 17 March 2018

More homeless using drug services

Tony Geoghegan
Tony Geoghegan

Sam Griffin

A leading homeless charity recorded a significant increase in the number of people using its services in 2014, according to its annual review.

Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) said drug use had continued to "exacerbate and contribute" to homelessness here but that the numbers overcoming addiction demonstrated that homelessness and drugs can be addressed.

The service provided around 80,000 meals in 2014 and 5,329 interventions through its primary healthcare service last year - a 19pc increase on 2013.

More than 1,000 people accessed the GP services, which was a 28pc rise.

"These statistics reflect the harsh reality of homelessness and drug use and life on the streets," said the organisation's CEO, Tony Geoghegan.

"We are currently facing unprecedented levels of homelessness that are further exacerbated by, and are contributing to, problem drug use.

"As a matter of urgency, I call on the Government to hold fast to its commitments to a just society and as a matter of urgency to put in place the necessary resources to make a real difference in the lives of people caught in the misery of drugs and homelessness."

The MQI needle-exchange service in Dublin had a 6pc increase last year while there were 527 new users of the programme in 2014.

The organisation also noted increases in the numbers using its services outside of Dublin, which Mr Geoghegan said highlighted the real need for detox and rehab facilities across Ireland.

Irish Independent

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