Coordinator of Drug and Alcohol Services for the South West, David Lane, said there are roughly 430 heroin users across the city and county in various levels of treatment and another 100 that they know of that are not engaging with the services.
Mr Lane’s comments follow news that a ruthless Lithuanian gang have taken over the Cork heroin market. The gang, which has been operating in the city for the past three years, is being monitored by the Cork Divisional Drugs Unit who has said the gang uses intimidation and fear tactics to control the organisation.
According to gardaí, the gang are maintaining the levels of heroin in Cork with no signs of abating, despite 30 arrests in three years and six outstanding European arrest warrants.
Mr Lane said while there was a serious spike in heroin use in Cork in the early 2000s, that level has plateaued in recent years.
“It has stayed the same for some years, but around 10 to 15 years ago there was a massive spike in heroin use that has not gone away. But there is help there, make contact with the services. We have a good infrastructure in Cork and there is help there for people who want it.”
The Drug and Alcohol services coordinator also said that it is rare to have a heroin addict, solely addicted to heroin.
“Polydrug use is a big issue, right across the world, not to mind Cork. It is often the case that the individual is addicted to heroin as well as a lot of other substances and when they can’t get a substance, anything else will do.”
He said the addiction can involve legal drugs such as prescription tablets and alcohol. “It can be a very complex picture that comes to us from individuals,” Mr Lane said.
Despite this, Mr Lane offered hope to families and individuals struggling with addiction. “There is help there, make contact with the services. We have a good infrastructure in Cork and there is help there for people who want it.”
He directed people to the Cork drug and alcohol website:http://www.corkdrugandalcohol.ie and also gave the number of the HSE South Adult Addiction service Arbour House: 021 4968933.