Alarming increase in drug use amongst young people in Clondalkin

By Maurice Garvey

THE recession has led to increased levels of poverty, drug use and unemployment in Clondalkin – with some areas experiencing high disadvantage levels above 60 per cent.

Budgets for community groups have been hammered since 2008, hindering their capacity to respond to problems.

Clondalkin Village 3 resized

Services in Clondalkin have experienced funding cuts of between 35 per cent to 45 per cent, compared to an overall reduction in government spending of 4 per cent.

Research carried out by Clondalkin Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (CDATF) earlier this year on drug harms, policy harms, poverty and inequality, found an alarming increase in drug use, particularly amongst young people.

It also highlighted a direct link between poverty inequality and drug use.

CDATF commissioned Dr Aileen O’Gorman of the University of West Scotland, to carry out the comprehensive study.

Published in April, it highlighted a number of key factors, among them, that “little attention is paid to harmful outcomes of government drug policy.”

The report equally states that the role of government in producing and reproducing poverty is exemplified by the “consistent decision to set the levels of welfare payments under the poverty line.”

Research found the CDATF area is home to a “disproportionate number of people at risk of poverty, living in social housing, unemployed, or disadvantaged in education” – in some areas the level is over 60 per cent.

National Drugs Strategy data from 2014, indicated at least 436 people in the Clondalkin area were in treatment for drug and alcohol problems.

However, CDATF say this doesn’t reflect the full extent of the issue in the area, as data wasn’t collected from all services.
The number of people unemployed in Clondalkin trebled in the first three years of recession.

There was also a high correlation found between educational disadvantage and poverty, as people’s capacity to earn a decent income and maintain employment throughout their working lives is severely constrained by a lack of education qualifications.

Level of educational disadvantage in the CDATF area is significantly higher than the national average, and one of the highest risk factors for problem drug use.

Members of CDATF are calling on the government to respond to drug use based on an “understanding that drug problems emerge within a context of poverty and inequality rather than individual behaviour.”

They have also made recommendations for the new national drugs strategy, which includes linking new drug policies with wider economic policies.

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