Merchant's Quay: Nearly 9,900...

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Merchant's Quay: Nearly 9,900 Accessed Homeless And Addiction Service In 2020


02:07 21 Oct 2021

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Almost 9,900 people accessed homeless and addiction services with Merchant's Quay in 2020.


The charity says severe lockdown restrictions led to more people needing help for drug and alcohol use, adding the long-term impacts have yet to become apparent.


In it's annual report, published today, the charity's youth workers engaged with 37% more people aged between 18-24 in 2020 than in the previous year.


262 18 to 24 year olds were supported, while 137 people were admitted for detox or rehab.


Fewer than 1 in 5 people who accessed the homeless and addictions services were women.


Just under 1800 women turned to the charity for help, according to the report.


Users claimed they felt ashamed of being a woman with an addiction, and were uncomfortable talking about their issues in the presence of men.


Services Co-Ordinator Fiona McDonnell says some women wait until they're at 'crisis point' to get help.


"This is very typical of what we see [...] they're isolated and they feel they have nowhere to turn to, for fear of stigma and the consequences they may face for being a woman in addiction.


"Some of the women we support have faced huge trauma in their lives, like abuse, violence, trafficking and exploitation."


A user of Merchant Quay Ireland's addiction services says she was uncomfortable speaking about her issues in the presence of men.


Service user Marianne, whose story was relayed by an actress during the report, says she felt there was a stigma attached to her because she was a woman with an addiction.


"I didn't want to say certain things in front of men in the group [...] I do think women should have the option of an all-female service, and one where you can bring kids in. That would make a big difference and a lot more women seeking help."


The government needs to consider the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, according to Labour.


Labour TD Ivana Bacik says people with an addiction can be treated as criminals under the justice system, but they shouldn't be.


"So many drugs cases go before our courts for possession for personal use, the system doesn't treat people with addiction with sufficient compassion and it does not tackle the source of the scourge of drug abuse.


"We need to move to a situation where we don't have sick people, people who need health intervention, in a court dealing with guards and judges."



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