July 26, 2015

Heroin room: Drugs injection space to take abuse off our streets proposed by Government minister

MSIC in Sydney

Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain needs approval from the Cabinet for addicts to “consume” illegal drugs under supervision.

A drugs injection room to take heroin abuse off the streets is being pushed by a Government minister.

Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain needs approval from the Cabinet for addicts to “consume” illegal drugs under supervision in a “safe space” away from public roads and parks.

He said: “We are trying to get rid of heroin injection from the streets of Dublin,”

He claimed Health Minister Leo Varadkar is “broadly supportive” of his plans to open injecting facilities for addicts.

Mr O Riordain added: “It is not safe and not good for the user, the passer-by, for city retailers or anybody. We have to find an inventive way of tackling it.”

A legal framework is needed to allow heroin addicts to inject illegal drugs under State supervision, including an indemnity in the case of adverse events such as a death due to contaminated heroin.

The latest figures published by the Health Research Board show drug-related deaths in Ireland increased from 431 in 2004 to 607 in 2011.

Up to 365 of the deaths in 2011 were due to poisoning or overdose. Sixty people died in heroin-related deaths in that year.

The drugs market in 2013 was valued at €600 million. An annual report of the EU drugs agency found Ireland had the highest rate of heroin use in Europe with just over seven cases per 1000 population in 2009. It also found Ireland has the third highest rate of drug deaths in Europe.

The drugs minister revealed there are more than 80 “consumption rooms” across Europe.

He said the has studied an Australian model and found a single injecting room in the Kings Cross area of Sydney had made a huge impact on street drug use over the past 15 years.

He added: “I would envisage one city-centre location for such a consumption room.

“It may even be a mobile unit, or an existing facility with experience of dealing with people of that vulnerable nature.We are already doing needle exchange so, for me, it is a short jump to a consumption room.”

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