Drug users in Dublin are being trained to administer an anti-overdose medication in a bid to minimise drug-related deaths during the coronavirus outbreak.
Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), the largest voluntary drug treatment service in the State, is providing truncated classes to drug users in how to administer Naloxone, which blocks the effects of opiates.
While training usually takes up to 30 minutes, five-minute sessions which respect social distancing measures, are being taken up by about five people a day at MQI’s Dublin premises.
The condensed classes are regarded as necessary amid serious concerns for drug users’ lives during the pandemic.
Service providers ,including MQI, the Saol project which works with women in addiction in Dublin and the Citywide campaign, have warned they expect relapses and deaths among drug users in coming weeks.
On Tuesday, the Health Service Executive warned the risk of overdose was increased as drugs may be stronger and access to additional supports reduced during the lockdown.
It is aiming to maximise the number of drug users on opioid replacement (methadone) therapy – a substitute for heroin and, in some cases, crack or cocaine. It is not a useful substitute, however, for cannabis or prescription drugs.
In the south Dublin city and county area, an extra 50 people have signed up for methadone treatment in the past fortnight, according to the HSE. More than 10,000 people are on such treatment nationally.
“Addiction does not stop during a pandemic,” Minister for Health Simon Harris said on Tuesday. “If anything, it can become more of a problem for many and its impacts can be much more confined.
Source: Kitty Holland, The Irish Times, 08/04/20