The treatment by some gardaí and the courts of drug users exacerbates their mental health problems, further stigmatising and marginalising them, a landmark study published on Tuesday finds.
The report, ‘The Impact of Drug and Alcohol Related Deaths on Families’, says in the cases of at least some of the deaths examined for the study, “the stigma and shame of drug use was a contributing factor in death by suicide”.
Written by Dr Sharon Lambert of the School of Applied Psychology at University College Cork, in collaboration with the National Family Support Network, this is the first study in Ireland examining bereavement following drug-related deaths.
Some 17 family members, of eight people who died – four by overdose, three by suicide (all hanging) and one of liver disease – were interviewed. The deceased included seven men and one woman and ranged in age from 19 to 46. All were white Irish. Ten dependent children one grandchild were left behind. The bereaved interviewed here included parents, siblings and nieces of the dead.