Dec 10


logoBray Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force is a committee of statutory organisations, community groups and public representatives that aim to address the drug problem in Bray.  The Task Force  has in place prevention and education programmes, treatment services for active users and rehabilitation service. To address addiction related problems is an on-going, multi-dimensional and evolving effort. Alcohol and alcohol addiction related interventions are formally included under the Task Force brief from January 2014.

Jul 15

The 'War On Drugs' is driving a global epidemic of HIV, TB and hepatitis

Major new study says jails hothouse infectious diseases, which are then passed on to the wider community.

THE PRACTICE OF imprisoning drug users is driving huge epidemics of infectious diseases such as HIV, according to major new international research.

Levels of HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B and C infection among prisoners are far higher than in the general population, globally, the study finds.

The authors say the The War on Drugs – where governments treat drug use as an issue for law enforcement rather than public health – and mass incarceration mean jails are hothousing infectious diseases.

Around 30 million people pass through prisons every year, often passing on diseases caught while behind bars, due to a lack of adequate treatment in prisons.

Around 10.2 million people are imprisoned worldwide at any given time – nearly 2.2 million in the USA alone.

Eastern Europe

Moreover, up to half of all new HIV infections over next 15 years in eastern Europe will stem from inmates who inject drugs, according to the study, presented at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

The study concluded that treatment like ‘opioid substitution therapy (OST), in prisons and after release, could prevent over a quarter of new HIV infections among injecting drug users.

A US prison watchtowe

Incubator prisons

Professor Chris Beyrer, lead author of the study and president of the International AIDS Society, said:

“Prisons can act as incubators of tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and HIV and the high level of mobility between prison and the community means that the health of prisoners should be a major public-health concern.

“Yet, screening and treatment for infectious diseases are rarely made available to inmates, and only around 10% of people who use drugs worldwide are being reached by treatment programmes.

The most effective way of controlling infection in prisoners and the wider community is to reduce mass imprisonment of injecting drug users.

Worldwide, between 56% and 90% of people who inject drugs will be incarcerated at some point.

In parts of Europe, over a third of inmates inject drugs (38%), in Australia it is more than half, or 55%.

This is in stark contrast with injecting drug use the general population (0.3% in EU and 0.2% in Australia).

PrisonA prison officer holds heroin, pills and hashish along with some home made knives and mobile phones confiscated in prison from Mountjoy Prison.Source:

Eastern Europe

The series of studies show that the prevalence of infectious diseases has grown in keeping with growing numbers of injecting drug users in prison.

Levels of HIV infection are 20 times higher among prisoners in western Europe than the civilian population (4.2% vs 0.2%).

HIV rates are around three times higher among prisoners in eastern and southern Africa (15.6% vs 4.7%) and north America (1.3% vs. 0.3%).

While most prisoners are men, women and girls are the fastest growing imprisoned group worldwide.

People queue outside Dublin’s Amiens Street City Clini for methadone, a synthetic d

In most regions of the world, levels of HIV infection are higher in female inmates than male prisoners including eastern Europe and central Asia (22% vs 8.5%).

High rates of hepatitis C are also seen among prisoners, with one in six inmates in parts of Europe and the USA carrying the hepatitis C virus.

Prevalence of active tuberculosis is higher in prisons than the general population in all settings.


The prevalence was 40 times higher in one prison in Brazil than the general population.

Imprisonment could be responsible for three-quarters of new tuberculosis infections among people who inject drugs, and around 6% of all yearly tuberculosis infections.

High rates of injecting drug use in some settings, lack of access to condoms, unsanitary conditions, and gross overcrowding have made prisons and detention centers high risk environments for spread of these infections.

Almost half of countries in sub-Saharan Africa report that prisons are at 150% capacity or higher.

File photo

If a prisoner is locked up frequently and for longer periods, they are more likely to be infected with HIV and tuberculosis – and then export the problem to the world outside.

An estimated 30 million pass in and out of prison each year, meanwhile, bringing large numbers of undiagnosed and untreated prison infections to the community at large.

The research shows that countries can reduce and even reverse levels of infectious disease by scaling up opioid agonist therapy, antiretroviral therapy, hepatitis B vaccination, condom distribution, and sterile needle and syringe exchange.

Reducing mass incarceration of people who use drugs by a quarter could result in a 7–15% drop in new cases of HIV among injecting drug users in the wider community over five years.

European successes

Globally, only eight countries provide six key interventions recommended by the WHO for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in prisons – Portugal, Spain, Germany, Moldova, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

In western Europe, only a third (10 of 29) of surveyed countries reported hepatitis C screening programmes for prisoners; and in 2012, and antiretroviral therapy was available to prisoners in just 43 countries worldwide.

Iranian reduction

Yet in Iran, where more than 60% of prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related crimes, HIV prevalence among injecting drug users in prisons dropped from 18.2% in 2003 to 2.3% in 2007.

This was down to a combination of voluntary HIV testing, OST, condoms, and needle and syringe exchange programmes.

Professor Beyrer added:

“The response to the HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis epidemics in prisons has been slow and piecemeal, and the majority of governments continue to ignore the strategic importance of prison health care to public health.

“Most strategies for dealing with infectious diseases in prisons focus on a zero-tolerance approach to drug users.

“The fact that infection rates are still climbing confirms that this approach does not work.

Darragh Peter Murphy 

Jul 12

Supervised injection centres discussion

New Drugs Minister Catherine Byrne is expecting some people to react negatively to supervised injection clinics for drug users, but insisted the drugs crisis must be addressed.

Legislation allowing the centres is due to be published soon, and Ms Byrne said that despite the challenges in the current Dail make-up she is confident it will pass.

A pilot project will be set up in the inner city, but a location will not be finalised until the new law has been approved.

“I know people in communities are fearful about things like this, but we have a crisis and we have to accept that we have a crisis with chronic drug users and this works in other cities,” said Ms Byrne.

Source:, 12/07/2016

Jul 12

Children of heavy drinkers ‘suffer in silence’

Many children whose parents are heavy drinkers grow up worrying about their siblings’ health and safety, while others report being unable to sleep at night because of parents’ partying or recount being verbally and physically abused by drunk parents, according to the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC).

Speaking at a Leinster House briefing outlining how harmful drinking affects children, chair of the Oireachtas cross-party group on alcohol harm, senator Frances Black, said children living with parents who drink excessively often “suffer in silence”.

“The wide range of harms that are caused to children as a result of harmful drinking in the home is known as ‘hidden harm’, as the harm is not often visible in public and largely kept behind closed doors,” she said.

“These vulnerable children do not know where to turn for help, and the impact of harmful parental drinking has a deep and long-lasting impact.”

Source: Irish examiner, 07/07/2016

Jun 27

New drugs Bill causes division in Seanad

There was a sharp division in the Seanad when Minister for Health Simon Harris introduced legislation to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act for prescription medicines.

The new legislation will make “unauthorised possession” of prescription medicines for on-street trading a criminal offence. It will also include certain designer drugs such as “clockwork orange” on the list of scheduled substances.

Mr Harris said legislation was part of the Government’s approach to dealing with the serious crime situation in the north inner city of Dublin.

The regulation of prescription drugs governed legitimate trade rather than as a criminal code. “It is clear there are those who are exploiting this for their own criminal gains,” he said.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour supported the legislation to committee stage but Independent Senators Lynn Ruane and Collette Kelleher strongly opposed the legislation.

Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee said Summerhill in the north inner city had been described as “the sleepy mile” because of the prevalence of zopiclone, a psychoactive drug, often used in the treatment of insomnia. It was linked to 51 deaths due to poisoning in the north inner city in 2013.

She said children walking to school were stepping over empty blister packs and witnessing people under their influence.


But Ms Ruane said comments about people “walking across empty blister packs” were a red herring. “We walk across empty cans and bottles every day.”

She said she was angry at what she called “a very short-sighted measure”.

Ms Ruane, who works with addicts, described the legislation as “very much an attack on the addict” and it would do nothing to dismantle the drug trade at the top level. “It’s not ever going to be the person who is ever going to bring the drugs trade down” who would be charged.

She said the court and prison system would be blocked by these cases, and she described the move as a “reaction to make it look like we’re doing something”.

She said that when a drug was banned another came in.

Sinn Féin Senator Máire Devine said “we have many reservations and severe misgivings about the amendment”, which was taken in isolation rather than as part of a suite of amendments.

She said the Bill would fail in its aim without further investment but they would support it to committee stage.

She said parents saw their children being used as runners for the drugs barons. They were trying to shield their children but this was often impossible.

Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said his party would support the Bill’s move to committee stage although he said the legislation was in effect “criminalising marginalisation”.

With thanks to

Jun 27

Call to track the spread of diseases in prison

Prison health authorities should be tracking the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis in jails, the Irish Penal Reform Trust has urged.

The Irish Prison Service is responsible for the health and wellbeing of prisoners, but the IPRT wants the Department of Health to be involved as well.

The IPRT said the monitoring of infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis C, and TB should be urgently addressed as part of a comprehensive review of prison healthcare.

A European project, Improving Prison Conditions by Strengthening Infectious Disease Monitoring — Mapping Report on Ireland, published yesterday, addresses the gap in prison monitoring practices.

The EU-funded report, led by Harm Reduction International, argues for transparent procedures around monitoring infectious diseases in prison, including the publication of prevalence data.

The report also highlights the need for the expansion of harm reduction approaches in jail, including needle exchange programmes to reduce the spread of blood-borne infections.

It recommends the provision of naloxone to individuals at high risk of opioid overdose when they are released from prison.

Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids and may be combined within the same pill as an opioid to decrease the risk of misuse.

The inextricable links between social exclusion, drug usage, crime, and prison are among the central findings of the report.


Source: Evelyn Ring, Irish Examiner, 24/06/16

Posted by on 06/24 at 08:59 AM in

Jun 16

Ecstasy warning after pills found with double or triple doses in UK

Campaigners say pills at Manchester’s Parklife festival had up to 250mg of MDMA, which could prove lethal to some

Mastercard ecstasy pills.
 Mastercard ecstasy pills. The Loop is calling on clubbers to beware of these and yellow Mickey Mouse pills, which were found to contain potentially harmful doses. Photograph: web

Drugs harm reduction campaigners are warning about high-strength ecstasy pills on the market in Britain after an analysis of drugs at a Manchester festival found some that contained double or even triple doses.

Fiona Measham, a member of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and founder of The Loop, a charity which tests drugs found or handed in at festivals, said she and her colleagues found ecstasy pills at the Parklife festival containing as much as 250mg of MDMA, the active ingredient. That makes them significantly stronger than the pills available during ecstasy’s previous hey-day in the late 90s, when average pills contained about 100mg of MDMA.

After a string of recent deaths attributed to MDMA poisoning, particularly among young women, she is calling on clubbers in the north-west to beware of red Mastercard and yellow Mickey Mouse pills, which were found to contain doses that could prove harmful or even lethal to some users.

There are particular concerns that irregularly shaped tablets, often with no score lines to easily split them, are confounding harm reduction advice that tells users to test their reaction to a half or even a quarter of a pill rather than swallowing the whole thing.

Apr 20

 How harmful is cannabis? – podcast


What has convinced some researchers that the risks of heavy cannabis use now warrant public health campaigns to warn people of potential harm?


What has convinced some researchers that the risks of heavy cannabis use now warrant public health campaigns to warn people of potential harm?

How real is the risk of psychosis among vulnerable users of the drug?

And why has the number of young people receiving treatment for cannabis-related problems seemingly been on the rise in the UK?

Ian Sample is joined by Sir Robin Murray, professor of psychiatric research at King’s College London, Suzi Gage, senior research associate in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at Bristol University and Ian Hamilton, a mental health lecturer at the University of York.


Listen to the full podcast here:

Mar 31

Cannabis oil halts boy’s seizures


A little boy whose body has been racked with seizures up to 20 times a day since he was five months old has been seizure free for three months following his mother’s move to the US for cannabis oil treatment.



Last year the Irish Examiner highlighted Yvonne Cahalane, from Dunmanway in West Cork, and her two-year-old son Tristan, who was born with Dravet syndrome, a severe, incurable form of epilepsy.

Tristan’s first seizure occurred when he was five months old and his condition escalated to the point where he was experiencing epileptic seizures as many as 20 times a day.

The combination of his condition and the side-effects from his prescribed pharmaceutical medications resulted in numerous neurological and cognitive problems that affected his speech, movement, appetite, and behaviour.


Tristan Cahalane


In December 2015, Yvonne and Tristan moved to Colorado to begin cannabis treatment with the hope of easing his debilitating symptoms.

Since relocating, the positive changes in Tristan’s condition and wellbeing have convinced Yvonne that her desperate decision to leave their home in Ireland was the right one.


In December 2015, Yvonne and Tristan moved to Colorado to begin cannabis treatment with the hope of easing his debilitating symptoms. Since relocating to the US, the positive changes in Tristan’s condition and well-being have convinced Yvonne that her desperate decision to leave their home in Ireland was the right one. Video by Briona Gallagher. Irish Examiner


Tristan has not had a seizure in three months. He has not needed rescue medication or oxygen since beginning his cannabis oil. Within days of his first medicinal marijuana treatment, there was a noticeable improvement. He has been weaned off three pharmaceutical drugs and is about to begin removing a fourth. Any previous attempts to wean off medications in Ireland had always resulted in Tristan being hospitalised.

Administrated orally, Tristan’s whole-plant medicine oil utilises the full spectrum of therapeutic compounds that cannabis has to offer.

Yvonne said there are significant differences in her son. “Tristan was suddenly able to make eye contact and became more alert. He began to babble, repeat sounds, and say new words. All of which had vanished since his spate of violent seizures last May when he stopped talking altogether,” she said.

“During the second week he began to get steadier on his feet, he wasn’t falling after a few steps, he was bending with stability. He would sit down without help and he began to kick a ball.

“His seizure activity lessened with every few days and once he had been increased to his optimum dose with the introduction of tiny amounts of THC, he was 99% seizure free and has been ever since.”

Yvonne said Tristan’s personality is beginning to shine through now that the fog of seizures and medications is lifting and she is enjoying a new, happier side to her son.


Yvonne Cahalane


Tristan attends the Children’s Hospital Colorado.

“The hospital and doctors we have caring for Tristan are wonderful, they hold cannabis in high regard as a medicine. Colorado in general is a very open-minded and beautiful state. There are educational events all the time to spread awareness of people’s options in using cannabis as their medicine,” said Yvonne.

Cannabis oil is illegal in Ireland and will not be available to Tristan when he returns home.


Yvonne and Tristan are leaving Ireland on the 13th of December and moving to Colorado where they will live for the next year to eighteen months. Once there, Tristan will begin a hospital-based therapeutic treatment using cannabis. Video by Briona Gallagher. Irish Examiner. oil as a supplement.


With a visa set to expire, returning home is inevitable. Yvonne has left her husband John, and their other son Oscar behind as she concentrates on Tristan’s recuperation. While the progress Tristan is making is giving their family the strength to carry on, it is not always easy in Colorado.

Yvonne has launched an online petition on that has acquired almost 3,000 signatures, and is asking everybody who agrees with changing the law to sign it.

Mar 08

Notification of BDAF AGM .

The Bray Drugs Awareness Forum AGM is taking place on Tuesday 5th April 2016, from 12.30pm – 1.30pm in the Barracuda Restaurant, Strand Road, Bray – see attached poster. This years guest speaker is Mr John Lonergan, former Governor of Mountjoy PrisonBDAF AGM Poster 2016

Nov 02

A young man in hospital following a suspected drug overdose. (Bray people)

However it was Garda Peter Browne, who began treating him last Sunday night, who saved the life of the 20-year-old Bray man.

Gardai were called to a house in the Wolfe Tone area at around 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Garda Peter Browne and his colleague Garda Brian Saunderson discovered the man in an upstairs bedroom, unconscious and unresponsive.

Garda Browne put his training in to action and began to administer CPR.

He continued treating the casualty in the house while Garda Saunderson carried out other duties at the scene.

When the paramedics arrived they found that the man had a pulse and he was taken to hospital.

Bray People News paper

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