February 13, 2019
HOMELESSNESS AND ADDICTION campaigners have expressed concern after a new report showed that the rate of deaths among homeless people in Dublin was up to 10 times higher than the general population.
“Too many funerals”
Commenting on the findings, Tony Duffin – CEO of the Ana Liffey Drug Project – said that the findings reflect the anecdotal experience of the project’s teams on the ground.
“The findings are very interesting and disturbing, but it’s not a surprise,” he told TheJournal.ie.
This has been my experience at Ana Liffey and our team’s experience… We’ve been to too many funerals.
Duffin said that during the time period in question examined by the researchers polydrug use started to become more of an issue among Dublin’s homeless drug users.
Polydrug use refers to addicts taking a range of different drugs, which in Dublin could be heroin, pills, mephedrone among others.
“It’s really upsetting when you’re working with people,” he said.
“We know many of the people or knew many of the people who may have passed away.
There’s a human story behind every death.
Duffin said that he didn’t believe that all overdose or drug-related deaths could be averted, but that evidence-based measures could be introduced to reduce the numbers.
First and foremost he called for the decriminalisation of drugs for possession, which he said has been proved to help reduce deaths from overdose.
“You can then talk to people and it’s a health-led response rather than a criminal justice response,” he said.
Prohibition has failed in that regard… failed the people who use drugs and failed society in a wider basis.
Other measures being called for is increased availability of the drug Naloxone – that can be used on a user in the event of an overdose – and the introduction of medically supervised injection centres.
Despite legislation being passed in 2017 to allow injecting centres to be opened, planning delays and issues with businesses in the city centre have slowed down their opening.
The BMJ Open study can be read in full here
thejournal.ie article can be read in full here