Many of those caught up in serious drug or alcohol addiction have suffered abuse and trauma in their early lives, a conference hosted by the Cornmarket Project was told.
The conference held in the Talbot Hotel was organised to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the service which supports addicts and their families, helping them to move away from criminality and get their lives back on track.
It was opened by Mayor of Wexford, Cllr. George Lawlor who said the benefits have been felt not just by those who attend the service but by the wider community, as Cornmarket plays an important part in ensuring safer communities throughout County Wexford.
The conference was chaired by CEO of Wexford Local Development, Brian Kehoe who said issues connected with substance misuse, are continuing to affect many families and communities around the county.
He emphasised the problems caused by drug abuse among younger people which have worsened over the years and said that worryingly, the age of first drug use by young people has fallen.
But Wexford Local Development is responding to the problem, through the Cornmarket project and other programmes dealing with social exclusion.
The conference heard from Vivian Geiran, Director of the Irish Probation Service who said the service is particularly pleased that their work in partnership with the Cornmarket Project, has resulted in a significant drop in re-offending rates in County Wexford.
He said the challenge of achieving positive change among those with criminal convictions is never an easy task, but in working to create safer communities, it is important to move people away from substance misuse and criminality.
He congratulated the Cornmarket Project on its success in this area.
Sadie Grace, CEO of the National Family Support Network addressed the conference on the theme of family intimidation by drug gangs.
She said her organisation knew from the work of the family support service in Cornmarket, that Wexford families caught up in addiction have not escaped such intimidation.
She said she was heartened that the government has included specific actions in the national drugs strategy to address 'a scourge that has destroyed many families'.
Cornmarket Project coodinator Paul Delaney said that over the past 20 years, the service has come to realise that many of the people who attend, have suffered damaging abuse and trauma in their early lives.
He congratulated the staff and volunteers on their continued commitment. Although they are very often overstretched and suffer from a lack of sufficient resources, they continue to work tirelessly and professionally to ensure they can help those who have temporarily lost their way, to turn their lives around.