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Dublin: 16 °C Monday 3 August, 2020

Calls for supervised injecting centres as 'far more people die from overdose than on Irish roads'

“Each death is just as devastating to the children, families and friends of those who die.”

 “Far more people die from overdose every year than die on the roads, but each death is just as devastating to the children, families and friends of those who die.”

THAT IS THE message being delivered by Tony Duffin, the director of the Ana Liffey project, on International Overdose Awareness Day.

“It’s a major health concern, and there are simple steps we can take to limit the impact it is currently having. We need to be brave in our policies.”

He has called for medically-supervised injecting centres where people can inject legally obtained drugs in a clinical setting.

“MSICs are an evidence based intervention, which can be effective in tackling serious issues around drug use – including overdose, improving access to treatment and rehabilitation and public injecting,” he explains. “These are all issues in Ireland today.”

Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Merchant’s Quay Ireland joined Duffin in calling for innovative responses to overdose.

“We need to support people who are at risk of overdose. We need to invest in pathways for people to ensure that there are routes from isolated, street based drug use through to treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare. Innovative approaches like drug consumption rooms have a place in that continuum, along with increased investment in residential treatment beds to ensure that timely treatment is available when it is needed.”

Fr Peter McVerry believes that drug users would avail of the services if they were made available. He says the centres could also help Dublin with its problem of unsafe disposal and public use of needles.

“We’ve spoken with people who use our services, and we know they’d use MSICs, if they were available. It’s important to realise that public drug use in the city centre will continue to be a problem until people have realistic options.

“Many people are homeless, they can’t use drugs in existing services and given that they have nowhere else to go, it’s inevitable that there’s a significant amount of public drug use.”

An average of one person a day dies from an overdose in Ireland. Those figures put Ireland third in Europe in terms of overdose deaths per capita.

The organisations are hoping to use today’s awareness drive to acknowledge the “grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose”.

Read: ‘I never thought that after 20 years addicted to drugs and alcohol I’d be graduating and drug free’

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