NewsCrime Desk

Ten of Ireland's rural drug blackspots

Crime DeskBy Lynne Kelleher
Ten of Ireland's rural drug blackspots

THE nationwide drug epidemic is now claiming at least two lives every day according to experts.

South Tipperary has the highest concentration of heroin and methadone addicts in rural Ireland.

Clonmel, the capital of the southern half of the Munster county, treated 185 addicts for opiate addiction in 2014 – almost four times the number in Tipperary north.

Wicklow is another major heroin blackspot, with 176 addicts seeking treatment – mainly in the seaside town of Bray, which has a well-documented history of addiction dating back to the early 1990s.

In Kildare there were 174 addicts using services such as drug detox, methadone reduction, substitution programmes and psychiatric treatment or counselling.

The latest figures from the Health Research Board reveal that most of the counties in the top 10 list for patients seeking treatment for heroin and methadone addiction border Dublin.

Mullingar, in Westmeath, is another country town where heroin has wreaked havoc among hundreds of young people, with a number of addicts left homeless due to their habit.

Wexford is fifth on the list in relation to addicts seeking help for heroin or methadone addiction, but overall it has the highest number of people seeking help for addiction in rural Ireland.

Problem drinking and cannabis are the highest presenting issues in the south eastern county, but heroin and prescription drugs like Valium are also among the main addictive substances being taken by addicts.

Heroin has also taken its grip on Drogheda in recent years, with a number of deaths from the drug – in 2014 there were 112 opiate users in the county looking for help with their addiction.

In Laois – where a new Cuan Mhuire centre to tackle substance abuse opened its doors this month – there were also over 100 heroin and methadone addicts accessing treatment.

While Cork, Limerick and Dublin all have predictably high numbers of heroin addicts, Galway city has bucked the trend, with just 93 opiate addicts in treatment in 2014.

The west of Ireland seems relatively free of the drugs, with just nine opiate users in Mayo and 20 in Sligo.

Leitrim, meanwhile, logged the lowest number of people seeking treatment for using heroin or methadone with just five using State services.

Health Research Board Figures for number seeking treatment for opiates in 2014 in rural Ireland


Rural Drug Blackspots

HEALTH Research Board Figures for num­bers seeking treatment for opiates in 2014 in rural Ireland.

COUNTY                   NUMBER

1. Sth Tipperary ...................185

2. Wicklow ............................176

3. Kildare ..............................174

4. Westmeath ......................157

5. Wexford ............................130

6. Waterford city...................122

7. Louth ................................112

8. Laois..................................108

9. Meath................................102

10. Offaly................................. 90