Action is needed now to prevent an “epidemic” of Derry people taking prescription medicine and other drugs mixed with alcohol, a local councillor has warned.
Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Patricia Logue said that many in the city would be shocked at the extent of the problem locally, much of it “hidden behind closed doors.”
Colr. Logue said that it was also “scary” how many people were now taking prescription and other drugs combined with alcohol and ending up before the local courts.
“Over recent months there has been a steady build-up of evidence that raises grave concerns for people in our local communities about the mixing of alcohol and medication,” she said.
“I believe that medication, whether through prescription or non prescription drugs and alcohol are being used all too often together and it is worryingly becoming the norm. There is an urgent need to support people who are affected by this.
“More needs to be done to highlight the dangers of taking other people’s medications or medications that are not prescribed for them.
“People are getting access to these types of medication through various channels and we need to address this usage before we are facing an epidemic in our city. If you factor in alcohol, this can have a detrimental effect on people’s lives and on our communities.
“Many will be shocked to read this and feel that it doesn’t happen in our city but, sadly, the reality on the ground is that it does.
“A lot of what is going on is hidden behind closed doors; hidden in families or social circles.
“We need to shine a light on this issue and get people talking about it and finding solutions.”
“There is also a rise in anti-social behaviour across the city and problems within homes. Scratch the surface of these incidents and you will find very quickly that many are drug and alcohol related issues.
“It’s scary when you read the number of court cases in Derry where the underlying issues are the same.”
Colr. Logue said that it was now vital that services were ramped up to tackle the problem head on.
“It’s very evident that targeted interventions are required to engage people within their communities and support is needed to alleviate pressures on existing services.
“With services getting stripped back and being under severe pressure due to a Tory/DUP austerity policy, we need to tackle these issues as there is a lot more that can be done.
“We need action; we need investment to support people, in a safe environment, to discuss their dependencies; we need educational programmes to highlight the dangers of drugs and alcohol misuse and we need services to signpost people to in their local communities.”
She also advised: “At the minute there are other ways to access support. You could speak to your GP, pharmacists, a valued friend or local support groups to get the support you need. Don’t be afraid to reach out.”