Athlone’s position as the greatest urban centre in the nation with a heroin problem outside Dublin was confirmed this week with the news that there are 68 people on methadone treatment in the town, according to a reply given to a county councillor at the most recent HSE Mid-Leinster forum on September 21.
Across the rest of the county, there are just 49 receiving such treatment from community GPs.
These figures were compounded by the annual review from Merchants Quay Ireland’s, released on September 24, which revealed that almost 500 people across the four midland counties of Longford, Westmeath, Offaly, and Laois availed of its needle exchange project in 2009, and that Athlone was one of two locations in the region to have a specific Merchants Quay premises for family support, community harm reduction, rehabilitation, and aftercare services. In Dublin 642 new injectors presented for needle exchange services.
The annual review for 2009 was launched on Friday by John Lonergan, former governor of Mountjoy prison, and it showed that Merchants Quay Ireland is now delivering services in 11 counties, to 9,422 people, a figure up 9 per cent on 2008.
Source: Finian Coghlan, Athlone Advertiser, 01/10/2010