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Compassion needed for drug users: Ana Livia Drug Project Mid-West.

Photo Credit: ALDP

A Limerick support project for drug users has called for compassion and empathy for those struggling with addiction.

Speaking ahead of a Live Facebook discussion on the decriminalisation of drug users Rachel O’Donoghue of Ana Livia Drug Project Mid-West Limerick (ALDP Mid-West) said:

“We desperately need something in place, a harm reduction model that takes away stigma, judgement, and stereotyping. Support not judgement is needed, our clients are trauma survivors, people battling homelessness.”

According to Ms O’Donoghue crack cocaine is now more prevalent in the mid west than heroin use.

“Crack Cocaine is rife, not just in Limerick but in Tipperary and Clare too,” Ms O Donoghue added.

Ms O’ Donoghue, leads a team of five people working at the ALDP “working on the ground with our low threshold ethos, meeting new trends and needs with those suffering with addiction”

Some of the services offered by ALDP Mid West include the administration of Naloxone, which is a lifesaving drug that counter acts drug overdose when administered. The group also offers support to those most at risk of overdose and provides clean sterile equipment to needle users.

According to Barry Carey ALDP project worker, the profile of needle users has changed. “Our needle and syringe program clients are predominantly made up of polydrug addicts however we are seeing a growing rise in young body builders using steroids for competitions and young women injecting for tanning enhancement availing of our services,” he explained.

Regarding the proposal of decriminalising drug users, Mr Carey said: “There needs to be something in place, a harm reduction model. Our job at the ALDP is to offer a non-judgement service, our philosophy is to offer support even when our clients are using, no matter what, that’s a huge part of what we do.”

According to Ms O’Donoghue the rise in needle use can also be attributed to young people with poor body image.

“It’s not just bodybuilding competitors that are accounting for the rise in steroid needle users. Young people with poor self-body images, mainstream teen sports are among the young people swapping needles, they don’t see themselves with addiction like a heroin user” she added.

ALDP Mid-West celebrates ten years in Limerick in May 2022. Situated at Steamboat Quay their ethos is to work with compassion and empathy with people using drugs and their families.

Speaking about Tuesday evening’s discussion on decriminalising drug users, Aodhán O’ Riordain said he hoped it would ” open up a better understanding of those struggling with addiction and how we support our citizens”.

Mr O’Riordain was highly critical of the decision by the Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys, to transfer his question on the decriminalisation of drug users to the Department of Health, which he claims will further delay any progress on this key legislation.

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