The most frightening thing about Ireland’s drug culture is the recklessness of some people in their efforts to get high, according to a local social worker who tries to help drug users to get their lives back on track.
“The drugs market has seen a number of trends come and go – and then return,” Mel Bay said of his experience in the past four and a half years. “We had the affluent cocaine user; the herbal high shop frequenter; a heroin drought, amongst many other such trends.
“Issues with alcohol and cannabis use such as underage drinking, alcoholism, binge drinking, anti-social behaviour and mental ill health are ever present and cannot be underestimated.”
Heroin is an acute problem at the moment, particularly in smaller rural communities, he said, “and there is an alarming increase in tablets, predominantly valium being taken often in combination with vast amounts of alcohol as a cheap alternative to a night out in the pub.”
The most worrying part, he said, “is the careless willingness of some young people to take whatever is put in front of them, sometimes without question or thought of consequence. Hearing stories from parents and young drug users themselves in shock with what happened to them after a night of reckless abandonment can sometimes be quite disturbing.”
On a positive note, however, he emphasised that the majority of young people in Co Kilkenny resist the drug culture or quickly learn from mistakes.
“Young people more vulnerable to drug use can show a strong willingness and a desire to change their behaviour, and being there for them when this happens whether your a parent or a friend can often be the difference between failure and success,” he said.
For information on where to turn for help, as Kilkenny marks Drug Awareness Week, turn to page 19.