THERE’S A DIRECT link between the failure of opium crops in the Middle East in 2010-2011 and a change in the law introduced by Simon Harris, the Minister for Health, which took effect this month.
That crop failure led to a heroin shortage in Dublin around the time. Drug users deprived of their usual fix increasingly turned to benzodiazepines instead – leading to a rise in addiction cases, and presenting gardaí with a legal headache.
Benzos, as they’re called on the streets (also ‘dollies’, ‘blueys’ or ‘yellows’), weren’t in the same category as heroin or cocaine. Gardaí could stop people and confiscate them, but the prescription drugs existed in something of a legal grey area.
Long-mooted restrictions on unlawful possession, which took effect last week, changed all that - putting new controls on the pills that placed them in the same category as methadone.
Cast your eyes to the kerb as you walk down any side-street or laneway around the capital and evidence of benzo use – like discarded packets of Valium and Xanax - isn’t hard to spot.
You might also see packets of of z-drugs or ‘zimmos’ (Zopiclone and Zaleplon, which are used to treat insomnia) which have become an increasing problem in the city over the last two years or so.
Source: Daragh Brophy,The Journal.ie, 13/05/17