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Local drug addicts face a treatment delay of six months


HEROIN addicts trying to overcome their problem face a delay of up to six months for the methadone treatment programme, according to the Dundalk Drugs Action group.

Brian Doyle, who works with volunteers from the Dublin-based Anna Liffey project in Dundalk each week on a 'needle exchange' programme, highlighted the lengthy delays.

'Dundalk has the third longest wait for access to the methadone programme. It is an average of around four and a half months, but it has been up to six months. This is in comparison to a wait of just two weeks in Dublin,' said Brian.

'I do not want to criticise the staff who are currently working on the methadone programme in Dundalk. They do a fantastic job, but they are severely understaffed.'

He added that the Dundalk-based drugs action group has been campaigning for more GPs to take part in the methadone treatment programme, in an effort to provide greater access for users who are desperate to beat their addiction.

'Pharmacists have really come on board in terms of dispensing, but we are appealing to GPs, as methadone treatment programmes can only really work if more GPs are involved.'

Brian featured in the RTÉ Primetime special aired last week which showed him making a weekly visit to a meeting place in Dundalk for drug users.

'Myself and another volunteer go around to meet drug users with clean needles, distilled water, and a sin bin for them to dispose of used needles and other waste.'

The Dundalk Drugs Action group also run an anonymous call out phone or text service for people who need help.

Brian explains that although a lot of the men and women he meets every week are heroin addicts, they are often abusing other substances such as benzodiazepines and alcohol.

'I think these call-outs and the needles exchange programme are especially important in building up contact with people, and trust as well. What I see is that behind every drug addict is a human being, a person caught in a vicious cycle of drug use.'