Worrying ‘remedy’ to drugs debt

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However, local doctor disagrees with claims

DRUG dealers and illegal moneylenders are cashing in on prescription drugs, it has been claimed. The drugs, it is alleged, are passed on as payment from debt-ridden customers.

But the claim has been rejected by a local doctor, who expressed his concern at the growth in head shops and the dangers they imposed.

The Limerick Post was told that lenders are willing to take prescription drugs in part-payment of debts accrued.   Limerick Youth Service drugs worker Eoin McInerney, said: “There is huge availability of prescribed medication, people are selling onto moneylenders and drug dealers to pay off loans”.

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He alleged some young people in the city are taking up to four or five antidepressants (‘Up-Johns’ or ‘Floaters’) a day.

“Antidepressants are being prescribed with little attention to the three month detox period suffered after the last time of use”.

However, Dr Richard O’Flaherty rejected this claim and said that antidepressant medication prescribed by GPs in Limerick was not strong enough for the recreational purposes or easing the effects of coming down from heroin or cocaine.

He added: “There isn’t a doctor in Limerick who would consciously or knowingly prescribe this medication if they knew it was getting into the wrong hands. Pharmacists are also vigilant”.

According to him, the majority of patients suffering from anxiety or depression do not want to part with their medication.

He believes that the stronger antidepressants such as D10s, used to treat patients with psychiatric issues, are arriving onto the streets in bulk from Europe.

Dr O’Flaherty is worried about the use of head shop products, something which the five youth drugs workers at Limerick Youth Service have also expressed concern about.

Mr McInerney added: “A huge part of addiction is availability. One hurdle to be avoided by those wanting to get off drugs was mixing with criminal elements, but that has now been taken away with the advent of head shops”.

His colleague Sarah Butler, said some parents have a relaxed attitude to such shops.

“They assume because it’s legal, it must be safer, but legal does not mean safe.

“We advise buyers to write down what they have taken and keep it in their pocket, in case they end up in hospital”.

Poly-drug use(mixing drugs) has become more of a problem. “It magnifies mental health issues and there is shortage of services available that deal with addiction and mental health issues.

“There are few detox facilities available, and those that are can be expensive and won’t take you unless your clean’.

Eithne Stembridge, drugs worker, commented: “The dealer doesn’t want you to stop using, he will even throw drugs in the letter box”.

Limerick Youth Service operate the Know Drugs initiative in St Mary’s Park and St Munchin’s Parish, funded by the Mid Western Drugs Taskforce.