Written Answers. - Drug Abuse.

Ivor Callely

Question:

99 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health the most commonly abused drugs by addicts in recent years; if there has been any noticeable change in drug abuse; the progress, if any, there has been in addressing such abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

According to a survey in the Dublin area, carried out by the Health Research Board and published in 1992, on persons receiving treatment for drug misuse, opiates were the primary drugs of misuse among 80 per cent of drug misusers. These would be drugs such as heroin, morphine, methadone and pethadine. Cannabis was the primary drug of abuse among 12 per cent of these drug misusers and other drugs such as barbituates, amphetamines, hallucinogens, cocaine and solvents were the primary drugs of abuse among the remaining 8 per cent of misusers.

There is nothing to suggest that there has been any noticeable change in the pattern of drug abuse since that survey was carried out.

My Department, in conjunction with other State agencies and voluntary bodies, has in place a wide range of drug treatment and preventative strategies which are the subject of regular review. These are being implemented under the Government Strategy to Prevent Drug Misuse. Recently, strategies to combat drug abuse have taken on another dimension due to the large number of persons who have become infected with HIV/AIDS as a result of sharing needles which have been contaminated with the HIV virus.
A further development has been the production of the report of the expert group on the establishment of a Protocol for the prescribing of methadone. My Department is currently engaged in discussions with the bodies concerned with a view to moving forward with the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.