URGENT NEED FOR MORE FUNDING
URGENT NEED FOR MORE FUNDING AS TALLAGHT FRONT-LINE COMMUNITY ADDICTION SERVICES STRUGGLE TO COPE WITH “TSUNAMI” OF CRACK COCAINE AND INTIMIDATION
Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force calls for €1m extra in funding as new report finds one third of those seeking help for crack cocaine addiction are women
A new report reveals a “tsunami” of crack cocaine addiction and dealing in the Tallaght-Whitechurch area of Dublin, with one third of those seeking help for crack cocaine addiction now being women.
The number of people being treated in Task Force projects in Tallaght has doubled in the last ten years which means that there is a growing community of people who have recovered, but front-line staff believe they are only meeting 25% of the true need.
A 75% increase in drug related crime, including intimidation of women by dealers, has hit the area since 2018, but Tallaght has the joint lowest number of Gardai per head of population in the Dublin region.
The report, The Landscape of Substance Misuse and its Impact on the Communities of Tallaght’s Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, which was commissioned by TDATF, is being launched in Killinarden in Tallaght today (Monday) by Independent Senator Lynn Ruane.
Despite escalating needs, the Task Force funds nine front line community addiction projects in the Tallaght/Whitechurch area, had its budget cut from €1.3m in 2010 to just €1.2m this year. TDATF is calling for an additional €1m in government funding to take on more front-line staff to address the crack issue, create more residential addiction, develop more direct interventions for vulnerable young people, and to fund more Gardai on the ground.
According to Grace Hill, TDATF co-ordinator, the onset of crack cocaine in the last three years means that services are at breaking point.
“Community drug services have been seriously underfunded for a number of years, but the growth in drug addiction, particularly crack cocaine, means that these services are under severe pressure, with waiting lists for vital supports for people in addiction”, she said.
“Crack cocaine causes chaos and destruction in the life of the person trapped in addiction and hugely affects their children, their wider family and community, including a growing number of women, have become trapped in a life of addiction and intimidation, who find it very difficult to escape the cycle of trauma and addiction without our help”, she said.
The report found that in 2021, the number of people using TDATF services because of crack cocaine addiction was among the highest in the country, and by this year, one third were women. Addiction to crack cocaine is complex and difficult to overcome, with many people using more than one drug at a time, and therefore needs more staff time and support to be overcome.
Senator Lynne Ruane, who launched the report today, said families and communities in Tallaght is being abandoned by the Government.
“The people of Tallaght and Whitechurch and the services who support them have been pushed well beyond any acceptable level of resilience, and it is incumbent on the state to act and adequately fund this highly populated community to build capacity, to flourish and to escape the poverty levels that it experiences. You cannot read this report and ignore the relationship between poverty and addiction. The cost of a Government not funding this issue is far greater than the cost of funding it”, said Senator Ruane
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SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS
The report is the result of extensive research on the level of substance abuse in the Tallaght area and has found that:
- The scale of drug and alcohol addiction is among the highest in the country and is growing at the fastest rate with 75% of new cases presenting in 2020 coming from the TDATF area. Drug related crime in the area increased by 75% (from 400 to 700) between 2017 and 2018.
- Current funding for TDATF stands at €1.2m compared to €1.3m in 2010, despite a significant growth in population and in demand for new and more complex services in recent years. Funding for services run by the Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force lags behind that of other Drugs Task Forces with lower populations, including in the Dublin area.
- Cocaine was the main problem drug for almost quarter of the people supported by the Task Force services in 2020.More than half of those using the services regularly use three or more drugs.
- The 2016 Next Generation Survey found that nearly 7,000 children under the age of 18 are affected by substance abuse in the Task Force area.
- Garda resources are not sufficient to deal with the scale of the challenge, particularly the growth in dealing in crack cocaine, with the Southern Division which includes Tallaght having the lowest number of gardai per head of population in the wider Dublin area.
- The population of the Tallaght/Whitechurch area has grown significantly in the last 30 years and more than a third of people living in the area is aged under 24. It is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the country. Unemployment and poverty rates are very high with 9000 people in the Task Force area living in a very disadvantaged area.
- A survey of people living in Tallaght, conducted as part of the research report found that 89% of those surveyed felt that the situation around substance abuse had become worse and the impact of illicit drug use had grown.
SUMMARY OF KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
- Increased funding of €1m to enable TDATF to respond more effectively to the escalating challenges of substance misuse in the area, including:
- More staff for front line community-based services
- Funding for projects working with young people on the street who are not in any service
- More crack cocaine projects and family support services
- More residential places and specific programmes for those who have recovered
- Create an area-based approach working with other agencies including the County Council, Tusla, and schools and colleges
- Engage with local Gardai to tackle Drug Related Intimidation
- Use the findings of this research to develop a new model of community policing in Tallaght.
ABOUT TALLAGHT DRUGS AND ALCOHOL TASK FORCE
Tallaght Drug & Alcohol Task Force is one of 14 Local Drugs Task Forces set up in 1997 to facilitate a more effective response to the issue of substance misuse.
The role of Tallaght Drug & Alcohol Task Force (TDATF) is to commission and co-ordinate high quality drug, alcohol and related support services across Tallaght (Dublin 24) & Whitechurch areas. It achieves this by working in partnership with all those concerned to reduce the harm caused by substance misuse and the impacts of same on the individual user, their families and communities.
The Task Force consists of a wide range of professional representatives who meet regularly to implement their local strategic priority actions and those included in the National Drug & Alcohol Strategy. TDATF consist of representatives from the Community, Voluntary, Statutory and Political sectors.