Drug awareness

A MAJOR drug and alcohol awareness week has been launched by the Midland Regional Drugs Task Force (MRDTF), with a number of events planned for Laois in the coming days designed to provide practical advice on the growing problem of substance abuse.

Officially launched yesterday (Monday) at the Tullamore Court Hotel, the awareness week will run until this Friday, October 5, with a total of 26 events scheduled to take place across the counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath. The aim is to increase awareness about drug and alcohol related issues and to highlight the drug and alcohol support services available to people in the region.

There are five events taking place in Laois. Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 3, ‘Communicating with your Child’ will take place in the Youth Café, Portlaoise, at 8pm. This talk will look at a very simple way of communication and is organised by Laois Local Drug Network. For more, call Sylvia Rouget on 057 8662732.

On Thursday, there will be a workshop on ‘Sexual Awareness and Substance Misuse’, at 10am in Birchgrove Community Centre, Portlaoise. This is invitation only, so for more call Antoinette Kinsella on 086 3800517.

Also on Thursday is an information seminar on the effects of addiction on individuals, families and the wider community, with an exhibition of art work by students of Heywood Community School on display. This is at 10am in the Abbeyleix Heritage Centre and all are welcome. Call Ann Fanning on 057 8730891.

Finally on Friday, there’s an information morning on services offered by members of the Laois Local Drug Network, in the offices of Laois County Council, Portlaoise, at 10am. There will also be an information day at 2pm at Laois Shopping Centre, Portlaoise. For more information on either of these, call Sylvia Rouget on 057 8662732.

The primary role of the MRDTF, which is funded by the Department of Health, is to research, develop, implement and monitor a more co-ordinated response to the problem of drug and alcohol misuse as experienced in the counties of Longford, Westmeath, Laois and Offaly.

Antoinette Kinsella, co-ordinator with MRDTF, said: “Events of this nature are very beneficial as they help raise awareness of the issues surrounding drug and alcohol misuse, help strengthen and support a community based focus to the problem and importantly mobilise partnership responses at local and regional level.”

The awareness week is well timed, as a recent report by Merchants Quay drug addiction services reveal there has been an increased demand for services in the Midlands. The report stated that Merchants Quay recorded 1415 visits for drugs and crisis services at their Athlone offices alone and an average of 44 clients a month. The needle exchange service also provided over 4,000 one to one interventions in 2011. There are currently an estimated 10,000 methadone users in Ireland with limited access to treatment, and only about 50 beds are available nationwide.

For more on the MRDTF, visit the website www.mrdtf.ie.


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