New Research on Drugs is 'Important Milestone' According to NUI Galway Expert

Friday, 20 February 2009

Three new research reports are released today by the Western Region Drugs Task Force addressing tranquillser and sedative misuse; drug use in the Traveller community; and drugs issues in new communities. The new data target key gaps in knowledge on drugs issues in the West of Ireland. Launching the three reports in Galway, John Curran Minister of State with special responsibility for Drugs Strategy and Community Affairs at the Department of Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs said: "I am delighted to be here today to launch these three research reports for the Western Regional Drugs Task Force. In our role as policymakers it is vital that we establish reliable information concerning the nature and extent of drug misuse among all groups in society and also emerging trends of drugs misuse. I know that this research will be used to inform the work of the Task Force and will help to provide a better response to the needs of the communities covered by the Task Force". Dr Saoirse Nic Gabhainn of NUI Galway's Health Promotion Research Centre, said: "This is an important milestone in the work of the Western Region Task Force, it emphasises the comittment working from the evidence and reinforces how important it is to work with communities and community groups to help address old and emerging problems". The three reports are: 1 Minor Tranquillsers and Sedatives: Use and Misuse in the West of Ireland, by Kealan Flynn of iWrite Consulting This report illustrates the huge pull on the public purse of inappropriately prescribed minor tranquillisers and sedatives. Between 2000 and 2007, national exchequer spending on these drugs was €168.9 million, of this €90 million was for drug costs and €79 million for professional fees. In this period almost 90,000 people received 1.5 million prescriptions in the western region – most of them older, female and medical card holders. This report clearly identifies how the national prescribing guidelines are not being followed - and recommends that this be addressed as a matter of urgency. 2. Substance Misuse in the Traveller Community: A Regional Needs Assessment, by Marie-Claire Van Hout of Waterford Institute of Technology This report highlights how changes within the Traveller community – including fragmentation of their traditional culture, poverty and experiences of marginalisation in Irish society - places them at increased risk of substance misuse. Although the evidence suggests that fewer Travellers use drugs than settled people, Traveller groups identified that illegal drug taking was most prevalent among young men in their community with very low levels being used by Traveller women. However, Traveller groups reported women most commonly abusing minor tranquillisers and sedatives. The report states that drug education and prevention for Travellers needs more attention, and recommends a community development approach to working with Travellers. 3. Substance Use in New Communities: A way forward, by Colette Kelly, Cliona Fitzpatrick and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn of the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway. This report describes how migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees are often cut off from supports – especially those who are isolated from their families and have poor English language skills. Immigrants generally come from countries with lower levels of drug use than in Ireland, and are often forced to alter their cultural values and behaviours to adapt to the lifesytle of the Irish population. The report recommends that barriers to effective service utilisation must be tackled and minimised; requiring supports for new communities, service providers and communication between the two. All three reports will be available for download from: www.wrdtf.ie
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