GARDAI in the capital have recorded 250,000 street deals involving prescription drugs in the past year, the Herald can reveal.
Officers in the city have been taken aback by the extraordinarily large presence of prescription medicine deals.
Dealers have flooded Dublin with drugs such as benzodiazepine and tetrazepam which are legally available under current legislation.
According to figures seen by the Herald, gardai have recorded some 250,000 street deals involving these medicines, compared to just 14,500 deals involving illegal drugs.
Dealers are opting for the prescription drugs so that they can avoid arrest when approached by officers.
Sources have described the medicines as "recession tablets" as they are much cheaper than drugs like heroin and ecstasy.
A senior source explained: "The city has been impacted badly by these substances, but it is a health and policy issue because the gardai are powerless to act.
"People often flag the likes of O'Connell Street and Talbot Street for being drugs blackspots. But what they don't realise is that prescription medicines is far more prevalent that hard drugs."
North Inner City councillor Nial Ring said the level of street deals are "astounding".
"It's quite clear that the gardai want to act but can't and that's due to serious flaws in terms of legislation. Vulnerable people who are suffering from addictions are being drawn in by the offer of these drugs," he told the Herald.
One of Ireland's main rehabilitation centres has also reported a rise in addiction to prescription medicines.
Fiona Weldon, clinical psychologist of the Rutland Centre, told the Herald: "This issue is one that is of a very high concern to us.
"The medications that typically we are seeing individuals becoming addicted to include pain medications (opiate based), anti anxiety medications (eg. benzodiazepines) sedatives and tranquillisers.
"In the past two years we have seen a rise in those seeking help for addiction to prescription medications, from about 3pc in 2010 to 6.5pc of all assessments thus far only in 2012."
In a statement to the Herald, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the issue is one of top priority.