News

12th December 2017

‘Maybe we should slosh our way through the forty days before Easter too’

Christmas is a lovely time of the year. We catch up with family and friends. For many the pub is the perfect setting – it’s convivial, warm, friendly and welcoming.And that’s all lovely, until a marauding troupe of messers, bedecked in luminous Christmas jumpers, and wielding bunches of mistletoe, settle into your space, disrupting your company and likely spoiling what was shaping up to be a pleasant evening.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

6th December 2017

Smartphone addiction? Irish people check their phones 57 times a day

Nine in ten Irish people now either own or have smartphone access, with the ‘grey’ tech market expected to become a growth segment for mobile retailers. Meanwhile Irish people are likely to check their phones on average of 57 times per day, according to Deloitte’s annual Mobile Consumer Survey.

Read The Independent.ie article Here

27th November 2017

Delay in supervised injecting rooms – Dr McGovern talks to Newstalk breakfast

There has been a delay in the opening of the first medically supervised injecting centre (MSIC) in the city centre amid concerns that planning permission may need to be sought and that this could take over nine months to secure. Dr McGovern talked to Paul Williams about this delay as well as the benefits of MSIC for injecting drug users as well as the city’s bystanders, residents and business owners.

Listen to the Newstalk Breakfast interview Here

23rd November 2017

Minimum pricing would help tackle alcohol abuse issue in Northern Ireland, says chief medical officer

Alcohol abuse in Northern Ireland is costing up to £900m every year, the region’s top doctor has warned. The startling claim from chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride came as he called for the introduction of minimum pricing on booze. He said more than 200,000 people are drinking at either hazardous or harmful levels. Dr McBride was speaking at an event for the Big Lottery Fund’s Impact of Alcohol programme yesterday.

Read The Belfast Telegraph article Here

6th November 2017

Drinks promotions to be restricted under new legislation

Drinks promotions aimed at students and others offering two alcohol products for the price of one are to be restricted under new legislation being prepared by the Government. Minister for Health Simon Harris is to be given the authority to draft regulations to prohibit or curb promotions, which he believes encourage irresponsible drinking behaviour.

Read The Irish Times article Here

1st November 2017

‘Growing evidence’ backs injecting rooms; Facilities reach marginalised users and improve practices

There is “growing” evidence that drug consumption rooms are able to reach marginalised users, improve injecting practices, and reduce the visibility of public drug use, according to the EU drugs agency. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said there was an “increasing awareness” of the potential of such State-backed facilities to reduce harms to communities affected.

Read The Irish Examiner article Here

27th October 2017

Dr McGovern talks to Ivan Yates on Newstalk’s Hard Shoulder about problem drinking

Dr McGovern and Journalist Declan Lynch discussed alcohol abuse with Ivan Yates. Issues such as how to spot a problem drinker and the language used in describing people who abuse alcohol were discussed as well as the role and effectiveness of AA and other interventions.

Listen to Newstalk’s Hard Shoulder Here (interview starts about  halfway through Part One) Here

17th October 2017

COMMENT: Alcohol Bill will protect children

For over 650 days, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill – a progressive piece of legislation designed to significantly and positively alter Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol – has languished in the Oireachtas, hindered by the powerful alcohol industry’s lobbyists.

Read The Dublin People article Here

10th October 2017

Scientific evidence and drug policy – a marriage on the rocks

‘Nowhere is the divorce between rhetoric and reality more evident than in the formulation of global drug policies, where too often emotions and ideology rather than evidence have prevailed.’ So said Kofi Annan, when writing in a blog for the Huffington Post’s US site. As an Aussie, I have a strong belief in the value of a ‘fair go’. Indeed it’s almost part of our national psyche down under. Right now, when looking at drug policies around the world, the notions of a fair go, of justice and fairness (or lack thereof), are particularly poignant. 

Read the IDHDP article Here

9th October 2017

AA (and not that AA) criticises TDs for putting alcohol sales before safety

The motoring group has also criticised some of the legislation’s opponents for prioritising the sale of alcohol over the safety of consumers and users. The Road Traffic Bill, introduced by Minister for Transport Shane Ross during the summer, proposes that anyone caught with a blood alcohol level of between 50mg and 80mg per 100ml will receive an automatic driving ban.

Read The Irish Examiner article Here

5th October 2017

Remember the proposed ‘booze curtains’? Smaller shops have won the battle against them

Smaller shops have won their battle to get rid of the proposed ‘booze curtain’ which would have hidden alcohol from customers’ view. In a move that is set to incense public health campaigners, the shops will continue to be allowed to display alcohol – although it must be confined to around two shelves. The climb-down is understood to be among a series of amendments in the controversial Public (Health) Alcohol Bill, the Irish Independent has learned.

Read The Independent.ie article Here

3rd October 2017

Former FG advisers are lobbying on alcohol Bill

Former Fine Gael Oireachtas members and special advisers from the last government are lobbying former colleagues over the controversial legislation to reduce alcohol intake in the State. At least 10 former designated public officials have been involved in lobbying on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill and on alcohol in general. They include two former Fine Gael senators and four special advisers to ministers during the party’s time in coalition with Labour.

Read The Irish Times article Here

25th September 2017

Decriminalising drugs: could it work in Ireland.

In 1977, just before the heroin epidemic began to take hold in Dublin, the Fine Gael government passed a law which made it a crime to consume opium, possess an opium pipe or even visit a place where opium is being taken. The law was contained in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, Ireland’s first modern piece of drugs legislation.

Read The Irish Times article Here

20th September 2017

Government pledge to pass laws amid ‘hamstrung Dáil’ claims

The Government has promised to pass divisive bills on alcohol sale restrictions and judicial reforms before the end of this Dáil term amid ongoing claims parliament has become hamstrung by the minority government stalemate. The commitment was outlined by Cabinet yesterday as part of plans to pass 28 priority bills and fast-track 24 bills currently under examination, 30 undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny and 73 others under review.

Read The Examiner article Here

19th September 2017

‘De-normalisation’ of alcohol purchases targeted by health body

New legislation is aimed at both “de-normalising” the sale of alcohol and reducing impulse buying, which accounts for almost one-third of alcohol purchases, according to the vice-chairman of the association representing public health staff. Adrian O’Sullivan, of the Environmental Health Association said the new Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is a welcome piece of legislation which should be passed in its entirety by the Oireachteas.

Read The Irish Times article Here

15th September 2017

A Doctor Tries to Lower Barriers to Methadone Treatment

For John, a heroin user for seven years, there were a few snags that, for a while, held him back from getting stable on methadone treatment. Staff in two methadone clinics wanted him to give urine samples in front of them – a level of intrusion that he, like others he knows, found uncomfortable and off-putting. “I couldn’t get stable on methadone because of the way the clinics are, the structure of having to urinate in front of people,” he says. “Somebody comes in with you and there are mirrors around the toilets.”

Read the Dublin Inquirer article Here

14th September 2017

No ‘magic drug circle’ but gardaí will use ‘discretion’ outside city injection centres

Supervised injecting centres are on the way to Dublin but local councillors said they are concerned that they will be a nightmare to police, and that they fear users will be able to possess heroin without the prospect of prosecution. Elected representatives, as well as senior gardaí, said there would have to be compromise and discretion when it came to possession of drug laws if the centre is to be successful.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

12th September 2017

Alcohol a factor ‘in 85% of suicides’ of men aged over 40 in Cork

About 85 per cent of men over the age of 40 who took their own lives in Corkin the last nine years had a history of alcohol abuse, a public meeting has heard. Prof Ella Arensman, of the National Suicide Research Foundation, told the meeting that research into suicide in Cork city and county since 2008 found that among men under the age of 40, including adolescents, who took their own lives, some 55 per cent had a history of alcohol.

Read The Irish Times article Here

8th September 2017

Dr McGovern talks to George Hook on Newstalk’s High Noon about medicinal cannabis

Minister of Health Simon Harris issued advice regarding access to medicinal cannabis last May and that only medical consultant’s could apply for a licence. Despite that, no applications have been made and, as it stands, no patient in Ireland has access to this product.

Listen to the High Noon interview Here

5th September 2017

‘Don’t dilute drink laws,’ urges Black

Senator Frances Black has warned that new legislation on alcohol must not be diluted by the drinks industry. The musician and addiction awareness campaigner will host a series of meetings nationwide to galvanise support for the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, amid fears that the powerful Irish drinks industry will be successful in getting some of its proposed measures watered down.

Read The Independent article Here

28th August 2017

Free drug tests dropped in favour of ‘amnesty bins’ for revellers

Free drug testing in nightclubs – so users can check the purity of substances bought from dealers – has been quietly kicked into touch by the Government, the Sunday Independent can confirm. However, as the country gears up for Electric Picnic next weekend, special disposal bins may now be introduced at music festivals and clubs, allowing revellers to dump drugs without being charged by gardai. Dr McGovern provided his opinion and believes amnesty bins could help people who use drugs without fear of prosecution.

Read The Independent.ie article Here

17th August 2017

Leaving Cert: Charity criticises lack of regulation for drink deals

A lack of regulation for drinks deals in nightclubs has been criticised ahead of the release of the Leaving Cert results on Wednesday. Alcohol Action Ireland said social media posts from night clubs and bars this week highlights “the widespread use of such promotional tools”. It said admission charges “typically co-related to a specific number of available drinks; a variety of drinks being available to a certain admission price, or packages of reduced priced drinks being made available to certain groups.”

Read The Irish Times article Here

16th August 2017

Parents ‘should not be blind’ to students’ drinking.

Parents have been told “not to be blind” to their children’s drinking, as thousands of students prepare to celebrate their Leaving Cert results tonight. According to research carried out by Drinkaware, parents are the biggest influence on young people’s decisions around alcohol. “The post-results celebrations do not have to be synonymous with the now expected reports about drunken teenagers spilling out of nightclubs across the country,” Dr Liam Twomey, chief medical officer of Drinkaware, said.

Read The Independent.ie article Here

14th August 2017

Fears that potent drug fentanyl may take hold in Ireland

For several years Irish authorities have been bracing themselves for the arrival of fentanyl, the synthetic heroin-like drug that has claimed many lives in Europe and the US. Until recently Ireland appeared to have avoided the brunt of the danger; by the start of this year, just a handful of fentanyl seizures had ever been made in the country.

Read the Irish Times article Here

2nd August 2017

Revealed: This is how many people have failed roadside drug tests since April

Roadside drug-testing detected only 11 suspects in the first three-and-a-half-months it has been in operation. All but one of the positive tests took place in Dublin. The new procedures for preliminary drug tests were introduced on April 12 and involve gardai conducting tests to analyse a driver’s saliva when they are stopped at a checkpoint.

Read The Independent.ie article Here

28th July 2017

Tranquilliser trap: The pain of pill addiction

In 2015, almost 900,000 prescriptions were written for just two benzodiazepine drugs, with users becoming heavily dependent on them, often with painful results. Medication wasn’t her thing. She hadn’t taken an antibiotic since 1987. But when Tipperary-based mother of two Catherine experienced a “bad menopause” and didn’t sleep for months, her doctor asked in August 2007 if she’d try a bit of Valium. 

Read The Irish Examiner article Here

27th July 2017

More addiction counsellors needed

Sir, – Addiction Counsellors of Ireland are accredited counsellors with knowledge of the dynamics of addiction and with specific expertise and training in the skills and interventions required to work with people in the various stages of the pathway of problem use. It is very disappointing to see no mention by the Minister for Health and the Minister of State for the Drug Strategy of the need for investment and employment of addiction counsellors in the public health system as part of multidisciplinary teams to fulfil a key strategic goal of the strategy, to “minimise the harms caused by the use and misuse of substances and promote rehabilitation and recovery”.

Read The Irish Times letter Here

26th July 2017

Calls for a heroin ‘overdose antidote’ to be made more available to addicts’ families

Calls are being made for a heroin ‘overdose antidote’ to be made more freely available here after a scheme in Northern Ireland may have saved almost 100 lives over the past five years.Naloxone is a medication that rapidly reverses and restores the breathing of a person overdosing from heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

25th July 2017

Radio: RTE goes big on decriminalising drugs debate

Should we decriminalise drugs currently prohibited? The Government is proposing this for small amounts and personal use. They’re also examining alternative tactics to reduce intake: from a criminal to a medical approach. The story was widely covered, as is right – it’s a big deal. Radio 1 alone saw it explored by Today with Sean O’Rourke (Mon-Fri 10am), which spoke to Tony Geoghegan of Merchants Quay Ireland and Grace Hill of Tallaght Drug and Alcohol Taskforce; Drivetime (Mon-Fri 4.30pm) had on Aoife Frances of the National Family Support Network and Trinity Professor Joe Barry; and News at One (Mon-Fri 1pm) welcomed Minister of State Catherine Byrne.

Read The RTE.ie article Here

20th July 2017

HSE meets businesses over Dublin injecting facility

The Health Service Executive has said it has met with Dublin city businesses about the opening of a Supervised Injection Facility for drug users which is due before the end of the year. In a statement a spokesperson for the HSE said that the plan is to open the facility in the city centre area “where there is the preponderance of drug related deaths, drug related litter, ambulance call out for overdose and most visible public injecting scene”.

Read the RTE article Here

19th July 2017

Dr McGovern talks to George Hook on Newstalk’s High Noon about alcohol addiction

Dr McGovern talked to George Hook about Alcoholics anonymous, 12 steps and his own particular focus of treatment. There is no specific intervention that works every time in every patient who suffers from alcohol dependence. Each person presents a specific set of problems that might do better with a particular type of treatment philosophy.

Listen to The High Noon interview Here

17th July 2017

Midwives with special skills are needed ‘to help alcoholic mothers-to-be’

Specialist midwives trained to support pregnant women with alcohol problems are needed, according to a major new strategy for tackling Ireland’s drug problem. The plan warns women in Ireland are more likely to drink during pregnancy than in any other country and are still not fully aware of the risks. And it cites the need for maternity hospitals to “strengthen their methods of detecting alcohol abuse and supporting women to reduce their intake”.

Read The Independent.ie article Here

13th July 2017

92 babies suffering from drug withdrawal recorded in Irish hospitals last year

Ninety-two babies were discharged from Irish hospitals with drug addiction withdrawal symptoms in 2016. Figures from the HSE released to TheJournal.ie under the Freedom of Information Act show that, between 2012 and 2016, a total of 501 babies were discharged from Ireland’s maternity hospitals with drug addiction withdrawal symptoms due to their mother’s use of drugs during pregnancy. It would be interesting to see what the figures were for alcohol or what effects maternal smoking had on pregnancy outcomes and also how many of these babies had withdrawal withdrawal symptoms that required treatment.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

6th July 2017

Should drug injection centres be allowed in busy areas? Dr McGovern talks to Newstalk breakfast

Legislation was  passed in the Oireachteas in May 2017 to allow the first Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) to open in Dublin. The process will be put out for tender soon. Mannix Flynn, Dublin City Counsellor and Dr Govern debated the issue of MSIC and their effectiveness in reducing drug related problems in the city centre

Listen to the Newstalk debate Here

30th June 2017

Dr Colin O’Gara letter to the Irish Times about Gambling in Ireland

Sir, The Gambling Control Bill of 2013 appears to have slipped away from legislative priority. This is of particular concern to those of us providing medical care for patients and families affected by severe gambling addiction. As a society, we continue to allow ourselves and our children to be bombarded by gambling adverts in the mainstream media, online and during sporting events.

Read Dr O’Gara’s letter to the Irish Times Here

27th June 2017

Dr Bobby Smyth letter to the Irish Times

Dr Bobby Smyth wrote a letter to Editor of the Irish Times regarding the recent British Medical Journal (BMJ) study linking moderate alcohol use to deterioration in brain health. He also urges the Government to enact the Alcohol Bill which would overhaul the way in which alcohol is sold and marketed in Ireland.

Read Dr Smyth’s letter in the Irish Times Here

23rd June 2017

Government accused of stalling medicinal cannabis Bill

An Opposition TD has accused the Government is effectively shutting down the bill to legalise medicinal cannabis. The legislation proposed by Gino Kenny of the Solidarity / People Before Profit Alliance passed the first and second stages in the Dáil, but it has not moved since December. Deputy Kenny said that he believes the Bill is being run into the ground by the Government, with summer recess beginning in July.

Read The Irish Examiner article Here

22nd June 2017

From injury to addiction: Ant McParlin and Tiger Woods aren’t the only ones struggling

‘If it can happen to someone like me, it can happen to anyone.’ That was the message from Anthony McPartlin, one half of the TV presenting duo Ant and Dec, when he revealed last weekend that he had become addicted to prescription drugs. McPartlin has checked into rehab for addiction to the opioid prescription painkiller Tramadol, as well as alcohol abuse issues.

Read The Independent article Here

20th June 2017

Kenny among TDs who helped alcohol industry lobby Health Department

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny was among the many politicians who made representations to the Department of Health after being lobbied by the drinks industry objecting to proposed legislation to curb alcohol consumption. Mr Kenny forwarded the correspondence from his constituency office, which he received from the Reel Deel Brewing company in Ballina, Co Mayo, as recently as February last.

Read The Independent article Here

19th June 2017

Young people opposed to Good Friday alcohol law change

Young people aged 18 to 24 have the greatest opposition to changing Good Friday drinking laws, new research has found. It has discovered that the public is split almost exactly 50/50 on whether or not we should change our Good Friday drinking laws. But the majority of young people, 58pc, want to see the tradition retained and pubs to close on that day.

Read The Independent Article Here

16th June 2017

Carlsberg was top tackler of ad rules in Euros

With probably one of the best-known brand slogans in the world, it is unsurprising Carlsberg proved wiliest at circumventing local regulations designed to protect children from alcohol advertising during Euro 2016. A study entitled Foul Play: Alcohol Marketing During UEFA Euro 2016 shows the drinks industry paid little heed to the spirit of the law governing alcohol advertising, which in France, where the tournament was played, includes a ban on TV advertising.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

15th June 2017

One-third of parents think it is acceptable for under-16s to drink alcohol in the home

One in every three parents believes it is acceptable for their children to consume alcohol at home under the age of 16, according to a new report. The research by drinkaware.ie found that those who begin drinking aged 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependant than if they begin from 20 years of age onwards. The study also revealed that more than half of all parents surveyed believe it is acceptable for children to drink at home under the age of 18.

Read The Independent article Here

14th June 2017

Drug treatment centres shut due to user incidents.

Three drug treatment services had to close temporarily because of problems in dealing with drug users taking new psychoactive substances (NPS).Staff were confronted by clients suffering severe agitation, aggression and even violence as a result of taking the synthetic drugs. The findings are contained in a report on NPS by the European Drugs Agency. The report documents that significant harms are being posed to certain problematic users, including marginalised groups such as injecting drug users, the homeless and prisoners.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

12th June 2017

46 soldiers given marching orders after drug tests

A total of 63 members of the Irish Army have failed drug tests for substances including cocaine and cannabis in the last five years – but just 46 were discharged from duty. The compulsory random drug testing (CRDT) programme, introduced in 2002, is carried out on 10pc of the force each year. The scheme is meant to act as a deterrent, according to sources, and is aimed particularly at young recruits.

This seems like an irrational senseless approach to deciding the suitability for service. Doubtless recruits were spared alcohol testing.

Read the Independent article Here

9th June 2017

What is moderate drinking and how does it damage your health?

A pint of beer contains about two standard drinks, a bottle of wine contains seven. A study into the effects of alcohol consumption which showed that even moderate drinking has damaging effects on the brain has sparked interest about how exactly moderate drinking is defined. There is a lot of confusion about the measurement of alcohol intake, in part because units are defined differently in Ireland from the UK – our measures tend to be bigger!

Read the Irish Times article Here

6th June 2017

Alcohol is issue for most at addiction centre

More than 60% of the clients who attended an addiction treatment centre last year are holding down full-time jobs. Of those who attend programmes at the centre, alcohol is still the number one drug for the majority and is abused in combination with other substances by other clients. New figures compiled by Talbot Grove in Castleisland, Co. Kerry, reveal that over half of all clients are referred by either a family member or friend and not a medical professional.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

 

1st June 2017

Drug 100 times more potent than morphine being mixed with heroin and cocaine

Gardaí are issuing warnings to the public that a drug about 100 times more potent than morphine is being mixed with heroin and cocaine. On Monday night’s Crimecall gardaí said that there was a worrying trend emerging of the opioid ‘fentanyl’ being mixed with the illegal drugs, and could result in higher numbers of overdoses.

Read The Journal.ie article here

24th May 2017

Vaping Could Have “An Enormous Public Health Benefit”

E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular among those aiming to give up smoking, but are they the best way forward? Dr. Ruairi Hanley sees vaping as a positive, and believes doctors should prescribe it as an alternative to cigarettes. “These vaping devices are 95% safer than ordinary cigarettes,” he said. With five to six thousand people a year dying from smoking related illnesses, he thinks vaping devices could have an “enormous public health benefit.”

Listen to The Last Word interview Here (starts at 4 minutes)

18th May 2017

Alcohol or drugs were key factor in 80% of Cork suicide cases in study

Alcohol or drugs have been detected in eight out of 10 suicides examined in a study of 121 cases in Cork over a six-year period. The analysis is one of the first to compare young people (aged 15-24) and adults (aged 25-34) in terms of socio-democratic factors, substance abuse and method characteristics. The study was conducted by researchers attached to the National Suicide Research Foundation in University College Cork, the university’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, and St Patrick’s Mental Health Services in Cork. The study looked at 61 suicides of young peopleand 60 of adults between 2007 and 2012.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

16th May 2017

‘It takes me away from this world for the day’: Life as a homeless drug-user on the streets of Dublin

Heroin users are often stigmatised for using this drug in a way alcohol or tobacco users never are. This interesting article by Daragh Brophy of the Journal.ie looks at the lived experience of a heroin user from a number of different perspectives. Dr McGovern gave his views from a treatment standpoint.

Read the Journal.ie article Here

9th May 2017

Irish Pharmacy Union calls for decriminalisation of drugs for personal use

The Irish Pharmacy Union has added its voice to those calling for the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use. At its national conference over the weekend the union voted in favour of a motion calling for the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use to be treated as a health rather than as a criminal issue.  The forthcoming National Drug Strategy, to be published later in the summer by the Minister of State for drugs, Catherine Byrne, will also call for such a move.

Read the Irish Times Article Here

2nd May 2017

Survey: Eight out of 10 motorists ‘very supportive’ of roadside drug testing but how well informed are they about the evidence behind the testing?

A survey has found that 97% of motorists would support new roadside drug testing measures. Almost 80% of more than 3,000 motorists surveyed by AA Ireland said they were “very supportive” of the new measures, with an additional 12.38% “somewhat supportive”. These same motorists might feel different if they realised that the evidence of positive results and driving impairment show a poor correlation and many motorists who will be prosecuted may well be done so having not been impaired by drugs at all.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

25th April 2017

Drugs: ‘How is arresting someone for something that they are addicted to helping?

At the Labour Party Conference in Wexford last weekend the delegates voted through two significant motions regarding drug policy reform in Ireland. One was to legalise and regulate the sale and consumption of cannabis, the other was to decriminalise all personal drug use. One speaker, Emmet Stagg, said that he had proposed a motion to legalise cannabis fifteen years ago and he was almost lynched. It shows where the drug debate has moved to in Ireland and indeed internationally.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

24th April 2017

Four significant drug policy motions carried at IMO AGM 2017

Four major motions were carried at the IMO AGM 2017 in Galway last weekend. These included issues such as evidence based clinical guidelines, electronic cigarettes, medicinal cannabis and supervised injecting rooms. Dr McGovern and his colleague Dr Cathal O Sullióbháin presented these topics as part of the General Motions presentation at the event.

Read the IMO AGM Motions Here

 

20th April 2017

Dr McGovern talks to Matt Cooper on The Last Word about new drug driving laws

Minister Shane Ross has introduced new laws regarding driving and the presence of drugs in one’s system. New roadside tests have been developed to aid this process. This will not be without complications and convictions may well be challenged in court.

Listen to the Last Word piece Here (Click on April 12th episode and interview starts at 38:27)

7th April 2017

Journal.ie Video Debate: Supervised injecting rooms

Dr McGovern and Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Irish Restaurants Association were invited to participate on the Journal.ie video debate about the location of Ireland’s first supervised injecting room. A Bill has been unanimously passed in the Oireachteas to allow this facility to be opened. The location, however, has not yet been chosen.

Watch The Journal.ie video debate Here

5th April 2017

Medical Cannabis can be effective in the treatment of chronic pain

Dr McGovern was invited on Newstalk to discuss with George Hook the role of medical cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain. Legislation has been passed that makes provision for the use of cannabis for a range of chronic conditions although chronic pain is not included (in a recent HPRA report).

Listen to Newstalk’s High Noon interview Here

28th March 2017

Surge in teenage alcohol-related admissions at children’s hospital

There were more than five times as many teenage admissions to one of the State’s main children’s hospitals due to alcohol use last year compared with 2015, new figures show. Alcohol-related cases among children aged between 13 and 17 dropped to a four-year low at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in 2015, when just four such patients were admitted and later discharged. However, the number spiked significantly to 21 last year – the highest recorded since 2012.

Read The Irish Times article Here

23rd March 2017

Ireland top of the table for drinking at home

Ireland tops the table of 25 countries for people drinking at home before going on a night out — with more than four out of five surveyed engaging in “pre-drinking”. Research conducted by a team of international academics puts Ireland in fourth place for the prevalence of heavy drinkers. The findings, published in Drug and Alcohol Review, said that pre-drinking, also known as “pre-loading”, was linked with heavier drinking and negative alcohol-related consequences.

Read The Irish Examiner article Here

20th March 2017

RTE Drivetime with Mary Wilson discusses Gambling Addiction

This week as our airwaves fill with news from the Cheltenham races, addiction services in Ireland are warning that this time of year can be a particular problem for at risk gamblers. Della Kilroy had this report. Dr McGovern was asked for his thoughts on this emerging problem in Ireland.

Listen to RTE Drivetime Here

10th March 2017

Injecting facility ‘clinical structure’ is key

Governance, clinical appropriateness and a Dublin location will all be factors in the location of the country’s first supervised injecting facility. The location of any pilot supervised injecting facility has not yet been decided upon, beyond the fact that it would be in Dublin, the HSE has indicated. The decision in relation to the final location would be made by the HSE following an appropriate procurement process, taking into account the need in the area and the “demonstration of appropriate clinical and managerial governance structures”, the Executive said.

Read the Irish Medical Times article Here

6th March 2017

Footage emerges of alleged effects of synthetic cannabinoids (“Spice”) on streets of UK.

Shocking footage shows homeless people being turned into the ‘walking dead’ after taking the drug Spice. The video, shot in Manchester city centre, captures disturbing scenes of people frozen like statues as the substance takes hold of their whole body. The city has experienced a surge in ambulance call outs after users have fallen victim to the drug’s lethal side effects, with some left keeling over and smashing up their faces.

Read The Daily Mail article Here

3rd March 2017

‘Don’t let the hidden harm of alcohol abuse define you’ – experiences of a son

For Christmas 2015, there were no sleigh bells. There were no merry drinks with family. There was no exchanging of presents. Instead, there was the sound of an ambulance. There were empty bottles of wine in my mother’s unmade bed. The only exchange was my mother’s medical history with the paramedics. There was no Christmas dinner. Nor were there any presents tucked underneath the naked Christmas tree. On December 25th, I found my mother lying at the bottom of the stairs with her ribs broken as a result from drinking too much alcohol.

Read the Irish Times article Here

27th February 2017

‘Personal drug allowance would help injecting centre succeed’ writes Derek Byrne

I was glad to hear that the Government had finally confirmed plans to open a medically supervised injecting facility for intravenous drug users in Dublin later this year. We were told by Ministers that the pilot facility, to be opened at an as-yet undecided location in the city centre, will be staffed by medics trained to deal with overdoses. Drug users will be able to access sterile needles and rooms to inject the drugs they have brought with them.

Read The Irish Times article Here

23rd February 2017

Open cocaine use “normalised” in Irish pubs – councillor

The use of cocaine has become normalised and socially acceptable in pubs across the country according to a Clare County Councillor. Councillor Alan O’Callaghan said the use of the drug is open, publicly visible and becoming as acceptable as smoking a cigarette. The Fianna Fáil East Clare councillor raised the issue before the Joint Policing Committee in the county on Monday.

Read the Newstalk article Here

22nd February 2017

Publicans call for end to 90-year-old Good Friday alcohol ban

Publicans have called for the 90-year-old ban on serving alcohol on Good Friday to be lifted. In a now annual plea, the two main organisations representing the licensed pub trade have asked the Government to introduce what they believe is a simple piece of legislation to allow them open their doors on that day. The Licensed Vintners Association, representing Dublin publicans, and the Vintners Federation of Ireland, which represents pubs outside the capital, said the current law was “archaic and discriminatory”.

Read the Irish Times article Here

20th February 2017

Could your bottle of beer soon carry scary, cigarette-style warning labels?

When you buy a pack of cigarettes in Ireland, around 65% of the box is taken up with health warnings. It tells you that “smoking kills” and that “tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer” along with a graphic warning of what smoking can do to our teeth, lungs and throat.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

17th February 2017

Alcohol is having a devastating impact on our young people’s mental health – Minister McEntee

National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health discusses the damage alcohol is doing to the mental health of our young people in the context of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee today (Wednesday) reiterated her support for the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. The Minister was speaking after the National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health discussed, at its recent meeting, the damage alcohol is doing to the mental health of our young people in the context of the Bill.

Read the Dept. of Health Press release Here

13th February 2017

Drugs, alcohol and social status used to coerce young children into life of crime

Criminals use drugs, alcohol and the notion of status to entrap children as young as 11 into a life of crime, according to new research from the University of Limerick. The study – Lifting the Lid on Greentown – looks at a criminal network operating in an anonymous community outside of Dublin (with the codename Greentown).

Read The Journal.ie article Here

10th February 2017

Irish Cancer Society slow to endorse vaping

Health experts may have given vaping the thumbs up for ex-smokers, but they stopped short of saying e-cigarettes are safe to use, the Irish Cancer Society has warned.The first long-term study of the effects of vaping in ex-smokers found that people who switched from real to e-cigarettes had far fewer toxins and cancer-causing substances in their bodies than regular smokers.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

9th February 2017

Minister proposes an automatic driving ban for anyone caught drink driving

An automatic driving ban for anyone caught drink driving is among tough new measures proposed by Transport Minister Mr Shane Ross. Noting that close to a quarter of people (22pc) convicted of drink driving were found to be four times over the legal blood/alcohol limit, Mr Ross will tell a Dáil committee today the current sanction of three penalty points for a drink driving conviction is not enough to deter people from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Read The Independent.ie article Here

8th February 2017

Supervised injecting centres move one step closer

Dr McGovern was invited to talk on Today FM’s The Last Word with Matt Cooper to discuss the proposal for supervised injecting centres in the Dublin City Centre. Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Fitzpatrick also joined the discussion. A Bill has been passed in the Dáil to allow this centre to operate so that drug users who will use the centre will not be prosecuted while entering the facility with illicit drugs for the purpose of using.

Listen to The Last Word interview Here

3rd February 2017

Gardaí: No evidence drug linked to teen death is in circulation

Gardaí say they have no evidence to suggest that a potentially lethal synthetic drug which has been linked to the death of a teenager in Cork two weeks ago is still in circulation. They were responding to claims by a local councillor that the deadly substance, U-47700, known on the street as U4, is still being pushed by dealers in the same area where suspected drugs death victim Michael Cornacchia lived.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

27th January 2017

Gardaí need ‘balance’ to drug centre

Gardaí need to develop a “balanced” and “consistent” approach to policing the planned supervised drug injecting centre, a former top Australian police commander has said. Pat Paroz said it was “critical” that Garda management was clear about the law regarding such centres and develop a document on policies and procedures in implementing it on the ground. In a major shift in policy, Ireland is set to have its first medically supervised injecting centre this year.

Read The Irish Examiner article Here

25th January 2017

U-47700 death: ‘As we pretend that policing drugs deters users, we can expect more harm, more deaths’

Our drug policy isn’t working and it’s time to embrace a more rational and open approach, writes Dr Garrett McGovern. The death last week in Cork of a 16-year-old boy brought shockwaves to the community that someone so young could be taken so soon, and in such tragic circumstances. It has been reported that this death may be implicated with a drug that has hit the streets recently called U-47700, which most people, including many drug treatment specialists, will not be familiar with.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

19th January 2017

Warning issued over dangerous new drug in Cork following death of 16-year-old

The HSE has issued a public health warning to illegal drug users in the Cork area over a powerful new drug. The warning comes following the death of 16-year-old Michael Cornacchia at his home in the Deermount area from a believed overdose. The HSE warning concerns the drug U-47700, also known as U-4. It has only been discovered for the first time in Ireland recently.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

12th January 2017

Comment: Dry January just makes alcohol a taboo – and all the more tempting

Lorraine Courtney writes in the Independent – It’s that time again – ‘dry January’ – and if you drink regularly, it might be daunting. The problem is that, what with alcohol being such a huge part of our culture and social life, it has become a routine habit for many people. Most of us find it very hard to give drink up for a whole month, all the while arguing that we aren’t dependent on it.

Read the Independent.ie article Here

 

5th January 2017

Dr McGovern interviewed on RTE Radio’s Sean O’Rourke show about electronic cigarettes

E-cigarettes are an emerging tool for smokers to help them quit with possibly as many as 130,000 users in Ireland. Reports from the Royal College of Physicians in the UK and Public Health England that e-cigs are at least 95% safer than conventional cigarettes there is still much controversy about their use. Dr Pat Doorley of ASH Ireland joins the discussion.

Listen to the RTE Radio One interview Here

19th December 2016

It’s time to smoke out the lies about cannabis

Whilst the content and detail behind this article will be heavily debated the almost Armageddon scenario about cannabis described by the author is probably an advertisement for a more enlightened approach to the laws that govern this drug. The article also goes on to say that the so called war on drugs is nonsense and was never actually fought in Ireland.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

16th December 2016

‘Don’t let the hidden harm of alcohol abuse define you’

For Christmas 2015, there were no sleigh bells. There were no merry drinks with family. There was no exchanging of presents. Instead, there was the sound of an ambulance. There were empty bottles of wine in my mother’s unmade bed. The only exchange was my mother’s medical history with the paramedics.

Read the Irish Times article Here

15th December 2016

Dual diagnosis conference hears more compassion needed in services

Speaking in Sligo on Friday, following a conference on the issue of dual diagnosis: mental health and addiction, in the Riverside Hotel, Sinn Féin TD, Martin Kenny,  said that the mental health services must respond to the challenges of dual diagnosis, which is a more common phenomenon now than ever before. Carol Moore of Dual Diagnosis Ireland told the gathering that her experience of the Irish health service was that much improvement had taken place over decades, except in the case of substance misuse and mental illness.

Read the Leitrim Observer article Here

9th December 2016

500 people die of alcohol-related cancer in Ireland every year

Alcohol is the cause of around 900 incidences of cancer in Ireland each year, and 500 of these patients will die of their disease. Alcohol is a known cause of seven types of cancer – mouth, throat, voice box, gullet, breast, bowel and liver. Overall, 10% of all cancers in men and 3% in women are caused by alcohol. While there are no ‘safe’ alcohol limits, the more you drink, the greater the risk of cancer.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

8th December 2016

‘It’s just madness’: Publicans brace themselves for 12 pubs

It’s December that means but one thing: Christmas jumpers and over-zealous drinkers invading bars and pubs across the country on their annual polluted pilgrimage known as the 12 pubs. For the uninitiated, the tradition is a pub crawl through 12 pubs, usually accompanied by a rule for each watering hole.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

7th December 2016

Seizures of illicit prescription drugs soaring

Seizures of illicit anti-anxiety and hypnotic medication have soared in the last two years. Seizures of benzodiazepines, a group of anti-anxiety medication, jumped 11-fold between 2013 and 2015, while seizures of so-called Z-drugs, a group of hypnotics, rose six-fold in the same time period.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

6th December 2016

Police back walk-in booth for clubbers to test drug purity

Good news from the UK. Booths allowing young clubbers to check the quality of their illegal class-A drugs are set to be deployed on the streets of a British city — with the full support of police. Preston, in Lancashire, is expected to launch the country’s first public, walk-up drug-checking service in the new year, operating in the city centre on Friday and Saturday evenings. Revellers will be able to test the purity of their drugs before deciding whether to take them.

Read the Times article Here

5th December 2016

Garda vow to help injecting centre

Garda bosses have told legislators that the organisation will do “all it can” to help the pilot supervised injecting centre to succeed. Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll told the Oireachtas Health Committee that the “less ambiguity” in the legislation the better in order to limit issues in policing the facilities. He accepted public injecting was “unhygienic and poses a significant health risk for the drug users” and resulted in discarded needles, presenting a public health risk to others.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

4th December 2016

Gambling, alcohol and freedom from the problem

Dr McGovern was invited to discuss problem gambling with Host Ger Gilroy, Journalist Declan Lynch and ex Dublin GAA player and author John Leonard on Newstalk’s Off the Ball. Gambling is a billion euro industry and the way in which gambling is utilised by players has changed dramatically in the past 10 years.

Listen to the Newstalk’s Off the Ball podcast Here

30th November 2016

Politics and the alcohol Bill

Two letters were written to the editor of the Irish Times which highlighted the inordinately slow enactment of the alcohol Bill which many professionals and commentators in the field believe will reduce alcohol related harm in Ireland.

Read the Irish Times letters Here

29th November 2016

Judge rounds on class view of drugs

The distinction, in the public eye, of drug use between middle-class young people and those in less affluent areas was highlighted by a sentencing judge yesterday. Judge Gerard O’Brien said a sense of middle-class entitlement by young people looking for the “greatest high” formed the background to a Co Cork teenager’s death at an orgy of drink and drugs. Teenager Alex Ryan paid the ultimate price by taking a so-called designer drug, N-bomb, at a Cork City party last January.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

25th November 2016

Irish teens consume significantly less alcohol than their European counterparts

Some good news! Irish teenagers are drinking far less than the average European of the same age, a mew study by the OECD found. The continent wide stats body found that the number of 15 year olds who have experienced drunkenness at least twice was 16% in Ireland compared to 24% across Europe. The amount of adults drinking also declined with the OECD reporting the average consumption fell from 14 litres in 2000 to 11 litres in 2014.

Read the Journal.ie article Here

24th November 2016

‘I’ve seen this work’: Mother takes fight for medical cannabis to Leinster House

The Oireachteas Committee on health has heard that the potential benefits of cannabis-based treatments offers a “tantalising new horizon” for epilepsy sufferers. A session this morning on the examination of the merits of the licensing of medical cannabinoids also heard the case of a young girl whose rate of seizures dropped dramatically when treated with a high cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis extract.

Read the Journal.ie article Here

21st November 2016

Dublin Businesses Hit Out At Planned Drug Injecting Centre

Dublin businesses are up in arms over a proposed drug injecting unit in the city centre. Local retailers claim the facility would lead to increased crime and drug dealing. One supervised injecting centre is to open on a pilot basis in the coming months. The Temple Bar Company, the Licensed Vintners Association and the Restaurants Association of Ireland all wrote to the Government last week opposing the plans. The evidence from centres in other countries is that drug dealing and crime are much less conspicuous with these facilities.

Read the Irish 98FM article Here

18th November 2016

Alcohol bill increases coalition tensions

Relations between government partners Independent Alliance and Fine Gael are deteriorating further after a second public row in 24 hours, this time over the sale of alcohol in shops. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Transport Minister Shane Ross clashed this week over whether judges should be required to declare interests as “they might forget their oath”. Mr Kenny publicly rebuked the Alliance minister, saying he did not accept the claim as he disassociated himself from Mr Ross’ opinion.

Read the Examiner article Here

17th November 2016

To vape or not to vape?

Dr Garrett McGovern

Dr McGovern believes that vaping is a far safer alternative than smoking. For some public health experts, vaping may be the ‘silver bullet’ in the fight against tobacco smoking, but support is not universal. David Lynch reports. The Department of Health believes “further research” is needed into the long-term impact on public health from e-cigarettes. However, the Department told the Medical Independent (MI) it does acknowledge that e-cigarettes “may have a role to play in smoking cessation or reduction”.

Read the Medical Independent article Here

15th November 2016

Ireland’s Minister of Health Promises to Look into Medical Marijuana

Around the world, more and more countries are opening up to the idea of allowing marijuana as medicine. With research coming out of every corner of the globe showing its effectiveness in treating several severely debilitating medical conditions, it only makes sense that more governments are taking steps to make this medicine accessible by those who need it. Let’s hope the wait for this vital drug is not too long.

Read the Marijuana Times article Here

14th November 2016

The war on drugs is lost… so what do we do now?

Government research shows decriminalisation and taxation of our illicit drugs trade may be the way forward. Although the official Government line is that drugs decriminalisation “is not being discussed”, the mounting evidence from its own research is that Ireland has lost the “war on drugs”. In 2000, the then Government ruled that research should begin into the drugs markets, and it set up the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA).

Read the Independent.ie article Here

9th November 2016

Expert report into medicinal cannabis law ordered

A family from Co Cork has met the Minister for Health as part of their campaign for the legalisation of medicinal marijuana. Vera Twomey’s six-year-old daughter Ava has a rare, drug-resistant form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, which can result in up to 20 seizures a day. The family wants tetrahydrocannabinol -THC – a component of cannabis to be legalised, as they believe it could help reduce the number of life-threatening seizures Ava has.

Read the RTE article Here

8th November 2016

New report heavily criticises Diageo-led alcohol awareness campaign

A recently published report determined that the Diageo funded Stop-Out-Of-Control-Drinking campaign, meets the needs of the alcohol industry, rather than public health in Ireland. The report was published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS ONE), an international journal that focuses on science and medicine. It was written and researched by six health academics in UCC, London and Stirling, Scotland.

Read the Irish Times article Here

3rd November 2016

We must stop looking at addiction as a moral failing

People suffering from addiction are among the most stigmatised in Ireland. Sadly, addicts are still seen as morally flawed and reprehensible in a way that often prevents them from seeking help. Addiction, whether it be to alcohol, drugs or gambling, probably has an impact on every Irish home in some way. Statistics relating to alcohol alone are frightening. For example, Health Research Board figures tell us one in four deaths of men aged between 15 and 40 are due to alcohol, as are more than one in 10 cases of breast cancer.

Read the Irish Times article Here

25th October 2016

“We’re losing the battle against drugs”: GAA star calls for decriminalisation after brother’s death

Dublin GAA star Philly McMahon has called for decriminalisation of drugs for personal use in Ireland in the wake of the death of his brother. His comments on Claire Byrne Live came as a poll carried out by the show found that 44% of Irish people would support decriminalisation of small amounts of drugs for personal use.

Read the Journal.ie article Here

21st October 2016

Highest rate of HIV diagnoses in Republic recorded in 2015

The rate of HIV diagnoses in the Republic last year was the highest ever recorded and almost twice that of other EU states, figures from the Health Service Executive show. There were 485 people newly recorded as having the virus, a rate of 10.6 per 100,000. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported a rate of 5.9 per 100,000 in 2014 – the latest available – for the EU and European Economic Area. Lack of access to treatment for injecting has undoubtedly increased the prevalence.

Read the Irish Times article Here

20th October 2016

Fianna Fáil calls for relaxing of criminal offences for drugs

People caught with small amounts of drugs shuld be directed towards healthcare rather than immediately convicted of a criminal offence, according to a new policy being put forward by Fianna Fáil. The proposal from Dublin West TD Jack Chambers the party’s spokesman on community and the national drugs strategy, was taken on by the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party this week.

Read the Irish Times article Here

19th October 2016

Almost 30% of Irish people are binge drinkers, survey reveals

Only one in four Irish people get their five-a-day, and nearly 30% of us are binge drinkers. That’s according to the latest Healthy Ireland survey which also shows 42% of people eat six or more portions of snack food a day. The figures suggest one in four Irish people smoke, while 59% say they are too busy to do more exercise.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

14th October 2016

Minister Catherine Byrne announces additional funding of €3m in Budget 2017 for drugs and social inclusion measures

Catherine Byrne TD, Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy, has announced the allocation of an additional €3m in Budget 2017 to support drugs and social inclusion measures. Whilst this money is welcome it is unlikely to make any significant impact on real issues such as lack of access to treatment for many blighted by heroin addiction.

Read the Government Press Release Here

13th October 2016

Drugs taskforce has bigger brief on fraction of money

The budget of the unit dedicated to tackling drug and alcohol addiction in the West of Ireland has been slashed during the recession. Ten years ago, the Western Region Drugs Taskforce had an annual budget of €1.3 million to deliver services in Galway city and county, Roscommon, and Mayo. But, despite alcohol being added to its brief (since 2014 it is known as the Western Region Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce), the organisation now receives an annual budget of just €660,000.

Read the Connacht Tribune article Here

11th October 2016

Bad side-effects of drugs such as Valium a ‘medical disaster’

This article is quite critical of the ‘over-prescribing’ of benzodiazepines but neglects to address the real problem with these sedative drugs. There is little or no help for users with severe dependencies. Benzodiazepines in therapeutic doses are relatively safe drugs. Sadly there are significant numbers of users who take much larger doses and need properly staffed inpatient facilities to come off the drug.

Read the Irish Times article Here

10th October 2016

‘I overdosed twice in two days to get methadone’: A drug user on trying to get clean

File photo

Heroin users in Galway are intentionally overdosing in an attempt to fast-track their access to methadone. The practice is said to be becoming more common, and the issue was discussed at a recent public consultation meeting in the city about the new National Drug Strategy. The current plan covers 2009-16.

Read the Journal.ie Here

7th October 2016

Feedback encouraged on national drugs strategy

There is still time to inform the new National Drugs Strategy, the Department of Health has said. In a press release this afternoon, the Department said it would like to hear what service users, individuals, families and organisations think are the important issues to be considered in the new strategy before 18 October.

Read the Medical Independent article Here

5th October 2016

Dr McGovern’s presentation at Global Addiction conference 2016 in Venice: Is it fear, lack of training or regulations that restrict optimal use of Opioid substitution treatment in Ireland?

There are no specialist training programmes in Ireland for Doctors willing to do this work and there has never been peer reviewed clinical guidelines which is reflected in some of the practices on the ground. This presentation reviews the history, evolution and problems with MAT in Ireland as well as a reflection on some of its undoubted successes.

Read the Global Addiction 2016 Programme Here

 

30th September 2016

Gardaí Don’t Have Resources To Carry Out Drug Spot Checks

Gardai Don't Have Resources To Carry Out Drug Spot Checks

Senior gardai have admitted they are checking fewer people for drugs. It’s because they have to dedicate more resources to tackle the ongoing Hutch/Kinahan war. The gangland feud has been linked to 10 brutal murders resulting in a diversion of garda resources. For example there has been a massive 62% drop in gardai stopping and searching people for drugs in the city centre and north inner city.

Read the 98FM article Here

29th September 2016

‘Drug-driving’ test to focus on cocaine, cannabis, heroin

Mr Ross said the 20km/h limit would not be appropriate to all housing estates. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Gardaí will be able to conduct roadside tests on motorists suspected of being under the influence of cocaine, cannabis and heroin under legislation introduced in the Dáil. Minister for Transport Shane Ross said it was time to do strengthen the law on drug driving in a manner similar to current drink driving legislation. Let’s hope that common sense prevails when it comes to prescribed medication.

Read the Irish Times article Here

26th September 2016

Office of Public Works says drug use an issue in St Stephen’s Green park

A file image of an entrance to St Stephen’s Green Park in Dublin. The Office of Public Works says enough rubbish to fill more than 20 household wheelie bins is removed from the park every morning amid criticism of alleged drug use in the city centre space. Photograph: Aidan Crawley.

Enough rubbish to fill more than 20 household wheelie bins is removed from St Stephen’s Green Park in Dublin every morning, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has said. The OPW, which is responsible for the upkeep of the park, was responding to criticism of alleged open drug use and sightings of discarded drug paraphernalia in the city centre site. This is another example of the urgent need for supervised injecting centres and sharps bins for drug litter.

Read the Irish Times article Here

22nd September 2016

Rising numbers hospitalised for taking anabolic steroids

The country’s medicine watchdog, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), has warned of the dangers of the prescription drugs. New figures from the HSE show the increasing health toll of the drugs. Anabolic steroids are male sexual hormones, and include testosterone, which builds muscle tissue. In 2005, 185 people were hospitalised for taking anabolic steroids. Last year, this figure had almost doubled to 348 . The HPRA warned young people against illegally pumping up on steroids.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

16th September 2016

The methadone trap?

Dr McGovern was interviewed by the Medical Independent who ran a story on methadone treatment and its benefits to patients with opioid dependence. He stated “The evidence says that the longer you are on this treatment, the better you do. I don’t see anybody talking about the length of treatment where people are on warfarin or cardiac medication.”

Read the Medical Independent article Here

15th September 2016

The dangerous drugs abused by city’s 100 ‘Walking Dead’

The title of this article, which appeared in the Herald, only adds to the stigma associated with drug use and homelessness. The more important question is what can be done to improve the lives of the people who seem to cause so much upset for others? Drug dealing and drug use on the streets is a complex issue but good, evidence based treatment which meets drug users’ needs, supervised injecting centres and the proper regulation of currently illegal drugs would go a long way to improving the problems in the city centre.

Read the Herald article Here

13th September 2016

Medical cannabis: Is it high time for a change?

A bill tabled in the Dáil in July has put the issue back on the political agenda and this week Dublin prepares to host a global summit on medical marijuana. But Irish patients who want to use the drug to alleviate their symptoms are still in limbo.

Read the Independent article Here

7th September 2016

Public Consultation on the new National Drugs Strategy

Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD, has announced details of a public consultation on the new National Drugs Strategy. The new Strategy will set out Government policy on tackling the drug problem from 2017 onwards.

Read the Drugs.ie article Here

30th August 2016

Parents’ play key role in children’s drinking habits

A third of adolescents and half of parents report “hazardous drinking”, according to a University College Cork study. Documenting a strong link between the liberal attitudes of parents to alcohol and their children’s drinking, the research urges health-action plans to target both the behaviour of adolescents and the attitudes of their parents. The study noted the different influences of fathers and mothers in their children’s behaviour and attitudes to alcohol.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

24th August 2016

ChemSex in Ireland Training: Register Now

This training will address ChemSex contexts/motivations, risk assessments, harm reduction information, HIV/HCV/STI implications and will support attendees to develop appropriate support services and psychosocial interventions. Training will be provided by David Stewart, Substance Use Lead at 56 Dean Street London (An NHS sexual health clinic based in Soho which offer full outpatients HIV clinic services).

Read the Drugs.ie article Here

12th August 2016

Dr McGovern spoke to Matt Cooper on the Last Word on Today FM about cannabis use in the young

Dr McGovern, Medical Director at the Priority Medical Clinic, was interviewed about youth cannabis use on the Last Word on August 11th. Dr Harry Barry, a GP who specialises in mental health also gave his views on the issue.

Listen to the Last Word interview Here

11th August 2016

Ireland most expensive EU country in which to buy alcohol

Ireland is the most expensive country in the European Union in which to buy alcohol with prices at 175% of the EU average, according to new data from Eurostat. The EU’s statistics agency also said Ireland is the second most expensive for tobacco at 189% of the EU average, with only the United Kingdom higher at 218%. On average the cost of food and non-alcoholic drinks in Ireland is, at 119% of the EU average, fourth highest in the EU. Only Denmark (145%), Sweden (124%), Austria (120%) are more expensive.

Read the RTE.ie article Here

10th August 2016

Charity slams drinks industry call for tax cut

Alcohol Action Ireland has criticised attempts by the drinks industry to use Brexit as a way to secure a 15% reduction in tax on alcoholic drinks. Last month, the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) used its pre-budget submission to demand the reduction. It said a cut in alcohol excise was a “vital response to the new and immediate effect of the uncertainty caused by Brexit”.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

9th August 2016

Irish women trapped in an abusive relationship with alcohol

Recent media reports of an emerging trend in younger women in their 30s and 40s developing liver failure due to increased alcohol consumption may have surprised many who read the headlines but to those of us who work in the field of addiction, there was no surprise. Studies on alcohol consumption in Ireland have long pointed to a significant rise among young women since the early 2000s, with the introduction of alcopops and increased marketing of designer alcoholic products aimed at women during the Celtic Tiger period.

Read the Irish Times article Here

8th August 2016

‘Sharp rise’ in number of women dying from alcohol related illness

A new trend is emerging of younger women running into problems with alcohol, a liver specialist has said. Professor Frank Murray of Beaumont Hospital and president of Royal College of Physicians in Ireland has warned that Irish people are underestimating how much they drink and the harm it can cause.

Read the Irish Times article Here

5th August 2016

ECMDDA Report shows heroin is the top drug related hospital admissions

Dr McGovern spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about a new ECMDDA report which looked at drug related hospital admissions at a number of sites around Europe, including hospitals in Dublin and Drogheda. Heroin was the number one drug implicated in accidental poisonings and the centre in Dublin ranked in the top five in terms of drug related incidents.

Listen to Dr McGovern’s interview on Newstalk Here

4th August 2016

John Halligan calls for HSE-run drug shops

The junior minister for education has suggested that the opening of HSE-run drug shops should be considered and that the use of drugs should be decriminalised. Independent TD John Halligan has also said that prostitution should be regulated and that ministerial wages, including his own, should be reduced further. Mr Halligan, in a very personal interview for the latest edition of Hot Press, also said that he had a healthy sex life with his partner and that God did not exist.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

2nd August 2016

HSE Alert: Fentanyl Implicated in Overdose Deaths

Arising from a number of drug related deaths in Dublin and Cork in recent weeks, the HSE is issuing an alert in relation to the dangers of a class of Opiate drugs known as Fentanyls. While fentanyl is a narcotic analgesic and used in both anaesthetics and for analgesia, a number of non pharmaceutical Fentanyls have been implicated in deaths where it has been assumed to be Heroin (or in some cases possibly other drugs).

Read the HSE statement Here

1st August 2016

A doctor writes: medical benefits of cannabis beyond doubt

CBD oil reduces seizure activity without side effects of cannabis yet its use is restricted in Ireland. The benefits of cannabis in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have been well described. It reduces muscle cramps and relaxes bladder and bowel sphincters. And it has been shown to reduce the pressure in the eyeball that leads to glaucoma.

Read the Irish Times article Here

27th July 2016

Could Irish festivalgoers be allowed to test illegal drugs before taking them?

An independent music festival in Cambridgeshire made headlines this weekend when it became the first UK event of its kind to facilitate drug-testing for attendees. The Secret Garden Party allowed festivalgoers to test their illegal drugs as part of a 10-minute package of health and safety guidance. More than 80 “substances of concern” were checked, with police approval, over the first day and a half of the event. Dr McGovern is very supportive of drug purity testing and gives his views on the subject.

Read the Newstalk article Here

21st July 2016

“Urinate in 5 minutes or lose your treatment”

Dual Diagnosis Ireland highlighted the issue of dignity, respect and human rights in their latest e-zine. They published a copy of a poster that was on the wall of a treatment centre which demanded patients provide a urine for screening within minutes or their medication could be reduced or removed.

Read the Dual Diagnosis Ireland article Here

20th July 2016

Decriminalise all drugs says Junior Justice Minister

A newly appointed junior justice minister wants personal possession of all illegal drugs to be decriminalised as part of the Government’s plan to tackle gangland crime. Speaking for the first time since taking office, Mr Stanton also revealed Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is supportive of the proposal.

Read the Independent article Here

19th July 2016

Why is my pharmacist wary about codeine?

Q: I tend to keep painkillers at home just in case I need them. I find that paracetamol or ibuprofen is never strong enough so I like to keep something with codeine around. My pharmacist recently told me she would prefer if I had a prescription. Do I need one?

Read the Independent article Here

14th July 2016

‘Mass drug overdose’ on New York City street

More than 30 people became ill in an apparent mass drug overdose on a New York City street corner, sparking warnings from police and health chiefs. Calls started coming in on Tuesday morning that numerous people appeared to be overdosing in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Witnesses reported seeing victims lying on the pavement, shaking and leaning against trees and fire hydrants.

Read the Independent.ie article Here

13th July 2016

Public drug use cannot be eliminated but it can be much better managed

Tony Duffin, Director of the Ana Liffey Project, says that supervised injecting centres may not solve the Dublin City drug problem but it will greatly improve the conditions in which drug users take their drugs, significantly reduce overdose incidence and also clean the streets of drug using paraphernalia. Minister Catherine Byrne says that people will be fearful but the current situation is no sustainable.

Read the Herald.ie article Here

11th July 2016

Dr McGovern joins the Hot Press ‘Think Tank’ to discuss Irish Drug policy

As Fine Gael’s Catherine Byrne TD gets to grips with her new Minister For Drugs brief, Hot Press brought bring her predecessor Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin of the Labour Party together with four experts to decide how Ireland’s chronic heroin problem can best be tackled. If a reminder of Ireland’s chronic heroin problem were needed, it came in April when two Dublin men overdosed within both days, and metres, of one another.

Read the Hot Press article Here

8th July 2016

New law on drug dealing will criminalise ‘vulnerable addicts’

A new law will not combat drug dealing or gangland crime but will criminalise “vulnerable addicts”, it has been claimed in the Dáil. The Government has been accused of a “lack of urgency” over the drugs problem and of failing to show leadership on the issue. During a debate on the Misuse of Drugs Bill 2016 in the Dáil last night, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said the legislation is “about as far away” as you can get from the promises in the programme for government. “Punitive legislation as a policy response does not work and has never been proven to work and this bill simply creates scapegoats rather than solutions,” he said.

Read the Irish Examiner Here

 

6th July 2016

One in five admit ‘alcohol-related harms’ in Galway survey

One in five people admitted to “alcohol-related harms” due to their drinking habits in a new survey of alcohol use in Galway city. Over half of those who participated in the HSE sponsored survey have “hazardous” drinking habits, while 18 per cent of respondents believe it is “acceptable” to give a 15-year-old child alcohol at home. Some 44 per cent of respondents think it is acceptable to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to use alcohol at home.

Read the Irish Times article Here

5th July 2016

Street sale of prescription drugs to be made illegal

Minister for Health Simon Harris said he introduced the bill “as one part of the whole-of-government approach in dealing with the serious crime situation in the north inner city of Dublin”. The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2016 was only introduced to the Seanad on June 23. The legislation was not due for debate until the autumn but the Government decided to “expedite” it because of the “recent murders in Dublin’s north inner city,” he said. Unfortunately, this bill is unlikely to reduce the prevalence of dealing on the streets or reduce gangland crime. Furthermore, it will further stigmatise and criminalise those who have a problem with prescription drugs.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

28th June 2016

New drugs Bill causes division in Seanad

There was a sharp division in the Seanad when Minister for Health Simon Harris introduced legislation to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act for prescription medicines.Mr Harris said legislation was part of the Government’s approach to dealing with the serious crime situation in the north inner city of Dublin. Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour supported the legislation to committee stage but Independent Senators Lynn Ruane and Colette Gllagher strongly opposed the legislation.

Read the Irish Times article Here

24th June 2016

Deprivation of Dublin’s inner city

The prevalence of prescription drug-dealing and the severe lack of drug-free recovery centres in Dublin’s north inner city are some of the challenges facing the area, according to its community leaders. “We held a community brainstorming session to inform the government taskforce that’s being set up to address the issues of deprivation in the north inner city,” addiction counsellor at Hope, Irene Crawley, told the Irish Examiner.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

23rd June 2016

Alcohol consumption’s devastating impact on Ireland’s health reflects the need for urgent action

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, has said that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill must be implemented without further delay to reduce alcohol harm in Ireland. “The Health Research Board’s (HRB) analysis of the hospital in-patient reporting system clearly shows the huge burden that harmful drinking places on our health service and on individuals, families and communities throughout Ireland. It is important to remember that each one of the hundreds of thousands of ‘discharges’ in this study is someone who has suffered ill-health due to their drinking, with many of those people dying as a result,” said Conor Cullen, Head of Advocacy and Communication”

Read the Drugs.ie article Here

21st June 2016

Is the government giving up on medically supervised drug injecting centres?

Provisions for medically supervised injecting centres aren’t included in the latest proposed new drug laws that were brought to government this week. Health minister Simon Harris brought a bill to government on Tuesday to do with making the possession of certain drugs illegal. The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill was originally brought forward by the last government and had been given the go-ahead in December before the Dáil was dissolved. Let’s hope this is an oversight as this initiative needs to be realised.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

20th June 2016

Ecstasy warning after pills found with double or triple doses in UK

Drugs harm reduction campaigners are warning about high-strength ecstasy pills on the market in Britain after an analysis of drugs at a Manchester festival found some that contained double or even triple doses. This is a stark reminder of the perils of drug prohibition where drugs sold on the black market can cause significant harm as the dose and purity are largely unknown.

Read The Guardian article Here

16th June 2016

Experts call on decriminalisation As ‘War On Drugs’ Fails

Top public health experts say illicit drug use should be treated as a health issue rather than punishing those who need treatment. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) said the personal possession and use of all illegal drugs should no longer be considered a criminal offence.

Read the Sky News article Here

7th June 2016

Methadone alternative to be made available to drug addicts

An alternative to methadone for treating people with heroin and other opiate drug addictions is to be made widely available after the Department of Health agreed to provide the funding. However, the introduction of Suboxone for people with opioid dependence is being delayed by the need for specific legislation allowing the drug to be given on the same basis as methadone.

Read the Irish Times article Here

26th May 2016

‘I was embarrassed when people called him a junkie’- Dublin star Philly McMahon opens up about his brother’s battle with addiction

Dublin footballer Philly McMahon has opened about his older brother’s struggle with addiction and said Ireland’s attitude towards addicts needs to change to help those in need. The GAA star (28) lost his older brother John in 2012 after a long battle with addiction and said his death changed him as a person and altered his attitude towards addicts.

Read The Independent article Here

20th May 2016

Find out the damage alcohol is doing to your body

It’s a well known fact that Ireland’s alcohol intake is among the highest in Europe. And it shows no signs of slowing down with figures from Alcohol Action Ireland showing that, in 2014, the average Irish person aged 15 and over drank 11 litres of pure alcohol, an increase from 10.6 litres in 2013. Campaigners have called for new guidelines more in keeping with the latest recommendations in Britain which state there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, and that women should avoid drinking any alcohol in pregnancy. 

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

19th May 2016

Rural Ireland engulfed in hidden epidemic of psychoactive drugs

Over the past 18 months, counsellors at drug treatment centres in Cavan and Monaghan, and some midland towns, have reported increasing alarm by the number of young men and women, some aged just 15 years, presenting with “chaotic addiction” to ‘New Psychoactive Substances’ (NPS) – chemically produced narcotics that have a profound effect on the brain. Synthetic cannabis, sold as ‘K2 Spice’, ‘Blueberry Mix’ and ‘Clockwork Orange,’ among others, is a major concern.

Read The Independent article Here

18th May 2016

Drugs/alcohol task force seeks to identify concerns

The community is invited to engage in a number of public consultation sessions which will help to inform and shape Tallaght’s drug and alcohol strategy for the next four years. Staged by the Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (TDATF), the consultations will be very general in format, with service users, service providers, project workers, youth groups and members of the general public invited to raise their main concerns around drug and alcohol use in the area.

Read The Echo article Here

13th May 2016

The new government has committed to bringing in drug injection rooms

This is good news as there was a fear that the loss of Aodhán Ó Riordáin might spell a different approach by the new Government. It is important that injecting rooms are realised and sooner rather than later. Drug users need safer facilities and the streets of the city will benefit immeasurably from these centres.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

10th May 2016

Irish in Scotland at higher risk of alcohol-link disease

Irish people living in Scotland are more than twice as likely to end up in hospital or die from alcohol-related diseases as white Scottish people, research has found. The risk for women from a mixed ethnic background is almost 100 times that of white Scots, scientists concluded. People with Chinese or Pakistani roots had the lowest risks of alcohol- related illness or death.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

6th May 2016

Dublin’s drug laneways: One year on, the alleys are still littered with needles

This article in Journal.ie looks at the continued problems of drug using paraphernalia litter on our streets. This does not seem to be improving and the need for supervised injecting rooms as well as safe disposal bins for needles and syringes is greater than ever.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

5th May 2016

E-cigarettes benefit smokers’ health: report

The British Royal College of Physicians report says e-cigarettes should be widely promoted as a substitute to smoking. The authors conclude that smokers can be reassured and encouraged to use the devices. Experts made a series of conclusions about the devices including E-cigarettes are not a “gateway to smoking”; use of e-cigarettes are used mostly by those who are already using, or have used, tobacco. There is no evidence that e-cigarettes result in normalisation of smoking. The devices are beneficial in encouraging smokers to quit.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

29th April 2016

Dr McGovern was invited to debate the benefits of e-cigarettes on Today FMs Last Word with Matt Cooper

There is much controversy around the use of e-cigarettes in helping smokers to quit tobacco despite two recent reports in support of them from Public Health England and The UK Royal College of Physicians. Dr McGovern is strongly supportive of e-cigarettes and has treated many smokers who are now tobacco free as a result of vaping.

Listen to the Last Word interview Here

27th April 2016

‘Major concern’ as two men die of suspected overdoses within days of each other

It has emerged  that two men died of suspected drug overdoses within days of each other in the past week, just a few dozen metres away from each other in Dublin city centre. The body of a 42-year-old man was found in a common area in an apartment complex on Foley Street, just off Amiens Street in Dublin 1.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

26th April 2016

Rise in detection of drink driving

Garda traffic chiefs told the Policing Authority yesterday the rise in detections of drink driving was due to a targeted approach to breathtesting. In what was the Policing Authority’s inaugural public meeting with senior gardaí, led by commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, it also emerged there was a 70% satisfaction rate among the public in the gardaí. The commissioner, flanked by six of her management team, dealt with questions on the 2016 Garda Policing Plan relating to community policing.

Read the Irish Examiner article Here

20th April 2016

Over-35s ‘Hit Weekly Alcohol Limit In A Night’

Older Britons often drink as much as younger adults on nights out, a study suggests – and regularly have 14 units in one session. Middle-aged drinkers are putting their health at risk by regularly reaching the recommended weekly alcohol limit on a single night out, according to new research.

Read the Sky News article Here

19th April 2016

‘Major concern’ as two men die of suspected overdoses within days of each other

Two men died of suspected drug overdoses within days of each other in the past week, just a few dozen metres away from each other in Dublin city centre. The body of a 42-year-old man was found in a common area in an apartment complex on Foley Street, just off Amiens Street in Dublin 1. It’s understood his body had lain undiscovered for several days before the alarm was raised. A man aged 33 was also found dead in the toilets of nearby Connolly Station yesterday, with a syringe found nearby.

Read The Journal.ie article Here

18th April 2016

Drug syringe bins may be installed across Dublin

Safe disposal of drug paraphernalia is an essential harm reduction measure that has worked very well in many cities around the world. Detractors cite problems such as adopting a permissive attitude to injecting drug use and ‘sending out the wrong message’ to young people. The reality is that drug use is occurring on out streets and it is imperative we make it safe for citizens as well as drug users. Thankfully the Irish Government agrees.

Read the Irish Times article Here

13th April 2016

Tanya Sweeney: Shopping addiction is real – take it from someone who knows

Interesting and irreverent article about shopping addiction, something that many people probably don’t accept. In actual fact compulsive shopping or oniomania is a well described entity in the literature.

Read the Irish Times article Here

11th April 2016

Opinion: Codeine addiction has taken over my life – and yet I don’t feel that I can stop

I often wonder how I got here. I was a happy child, probably always a little anxious but nothing out of the ordinary. But 10 years ago and I woke up and felt misery. I can’t count the number of doctors, mental health workers, nurses I spoke to. Or the amount of times someone had to bring me to the Emergency

Read the Journal.ie article Here

9th April 2016

Rapid detoxification associated with withdrawal symptoms and risk of relapse

“I had a 14 day detox that sent me into horrible withdrawal but I still went back to heroin” Paul started snorting heroin when he was 18. He had been involved with drugs before, and had grown up in a family where stealing was commonplace. “I come from a dysfunctional family – where thieving was the norm,” says Paul.

Read the Journal.ie article Here

7th April 2016

College students tell stories of gambling their rent money and losing at Cheltenham

Gambling apps have created a gambling addiction epidemic among third-level students, the Union of Students in Ireland National Congress heard this morning. Officers from student unions across the country were in consensus that the growing popularity of gambling apps have created a problem for students.

Read the Journal.ie article Here

4th April 2016

Illicit trade in prescription drugs a growing problem for Dublin’s north inner city

Prescription drugs have changed the inner-city Dublin drugs scene in the past two years. Dealing in these semi-legal products is low risk and takes place in full public view, yet their effects on addicts are no less severe than other drugs with more fearsome reputations.

Read the Irish Times article Here

31st March 2016

Boarding school pupil became addicted to drugs as teenager

A 28-year-old man who became a drug addict while in boarding school will commit more crimes when he is released from prison unless he gets treatment, his mother has said. The man, who is currently serving a five-month prison sentence, first took drugs at boarding school at the age of 14. His mother, who gave her name on Radio 1’s Liveline as Mary, said drugs changed her son from a “happy, contented, good humoured athletic boy” to a “sullen, aggressive and everything-negative child”.

Read the Irish Times article Here

30th March 2016

Taking the initiative in facing up to alcohol addiction

Dependence on alcohol and other drugs is so prevalent in Ireland that it is often ignored – but the time has come to start a conversation about it, say doctors.  Two people die every week in Ireland from overuse of alcohol. Alcohol addiction is so prevalent in Irish society that many experts say we don’t even notice it any more. In fact, it is often brushed off as a lifestyle choice.

Read the Irish Times article Here

29th March 2016

Una Mullally: It’s ludicrous to hand over drug quality control to criminal gangs

The highest level in Europe of so-called ‘legal high’ drug use was found among young Irish people. Teenagers and young adults are more vulnerable to risky and reckless behaviour because of changes in the prefrontal cortexes of their brains. These neurological changes increase the possibility of risk-taking between childhood and adolescence, and then gradually decrease into adulthood.

Read the Irish Times article Here

 

28th March 2016

Drugs bought online ‘could be superior’ to street deals

Online drug dealing has the capacity to reduce harm for users due to the higher quality of substances sold and less violence associated with criminal activity, an EU report has found. The study, by the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, examined the rise of online drug markets, their impact on society, gangland crime and law enforcement.

Read the Irish Times article Here

Comments are closed.