The Painkiller Drug Crisis in Ireland


Tackling rural drug addiction: ‘People are buying boxes and boxes of codeine-based drugs’

As drug addiction experts in County Louth, we know all too well that the prescription drug crisis across Ireland is consistently getting worse.

Smarmore Castle is a rehab facility an hour’s drive from Dublin, which has treated over 1,500 reclaim their lives and break free from the cycle of drug addiction.

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Leading addiction charity data is suggesting Ireland is being overrun with drugs

Across Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary last year, the charity dealt with 131 people addicted to over-the-counter codeine tablets, as well as benzodiazepines/prescription drugs.

One of the founders of the charity Carmha; Nenagh-based addiction counsellor and psychotherapist Donie Ryan has spent more than 25 years helping addicts:

“In pretty much every large town, small town and village, there are drugs available in all of them. They all have their own dealers, the network is there,” Ryan says.

There is not an area in and around North Tipp that does not have some connection to drugs – he notes that even young farmers are buying and using cocaine.

Ryan’s call is to treat addiction and mental health hand-in-hand and for society to contribute to assisting by moving away from judging those who have lost themselves to drugs, drinking or gambling.

Free addiction support services are currently set up in a way that makes seeking help longer and more difficult.

For example, those with a drug problem and a mental health condition are told that they can be helped, but they need to go to addiction services, so, therefore, someone leaves the mental health section and moves over into the addiction services.

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However, when you move into the addiction services, you might be told that you have a mental health issue, which addiction services cannot accommodate, so people often find themselves pushed and pulled all over the place.

Julie McKenna of Novas (a voluntary organisation) also commented about their findings; “People are buying boxes and boxes of codeine-based drugs,” she says. Many travel to towns and cities to buy anonymously.

“They can ‘chemist-shop’ all day long, going from pharmacy to pharmacy, and no one is any the wiser, the help on offer from the State is nuts”

alcohol addiction – an Irish problem‘Unmet needs’

Carmha is trying their best to respond to the community and help those who needs are not being met.

The charity encourages addicts and alcoholics to share their stories, whilst their mental health and addiction are being treated at the same time, at the same place.

“The vast majority of mental health issues and addiction issues have a common route and that is some sort of underlying level of trauma, pain, emotional struggle,” Comments Ryan’s partner;  Marie Oppeboen.

On The Front Line

In a recent post, we also discussed one doctor’s opinion on the lack of addiction services available to those who need it in Ireland – and there are few on the front line conquering this.

There are various free charities across Ireland, who do the best that they can to help and assist everyone.

However, for some who need primary care and residential rehab to overcome mental health disorders alongside addiction, Smarmore Castle can help.

We offer free drug addiction assessments so that we can help you get to the root cause of your addiction issue and help advise you as well as refer you (if applicable) to the best place or programme you need to get better.

A Personal Story About Being Addicted to Prescription Drugs

This story was first published in the Irish Times and had resonated so deeply with our addiction support staff that we thought we would cover the story in our own blog to provide awareness and show support for anyone who had felt the same way as those mentioned in this article.

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