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Three generations of families gripped by drug abuse

Ballymun drugs project is now treating the grandchildren of people who used their services 30 years ago.

Image: Zhao via Flickr

THE CYCLE OF drug abuse has gripped some Irish communities so viciously that three generations of families have now been affected by it.

Dermot King, director of the Ballymun Youth Action Project (BYAP), said that drug and alcohol problems have been passed down through each successive generation. The BYAP is the country’s longest-running community drugs project and marked the 30th anniversary of its foundation with a conference yesterday.

King said their work is more important than ever as the impact of drug misuse becomes compounded with each new set of young people caught up in it. He said:

We have witnessed an intergenerational pattern of drug misuse within some families in Ballymun, and similar patterns are being reported in other communities. In some cases, we are now treating the grandchildren of people who attended our service when it was first established 30 years ago.

Outside the impact on the families themselves, King noted that a community where drugs are a prominent issue experienced increased criminal activity, unemployment, poverty, ill-health and the “physical degeneration of neighbourhoods” as a whole.

King appealed for Government support of community drug projects. Pat Carey, then Minister for Community Affairs, told the Seanad last November that there were 464 people on waiting lists for opiate substitution treatment at that time. He confirmed that funding had been cut to some regional drugs task forces in 2009 and 2010 because of “the pressures on the public finances”.

The Irish Times reports today that social campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, who lives in Ballymun, said crack cocaine was now a problem in the area. He suggested that in the worst cases, children of drug-abusers should be removed from parents until they can properly take care of them.

“I’m just putting it out for debate”, he said, “I just see the children, young children, of ative drug-using parents and I just feel so sad for those kids.”

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