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Saturday 10 December 2016

The dangerous drugs abused by city's 100 'Walking Dead'

A drug addict on Abbey Street in the city
A drug addict on Abbey Street in the city

Drug addicts 'sleep walking' through the streets has become an all-too-common sight for workers and visitors in Dublin city centre.

Their stumbling walk and spaced-out look has led many members of the public to refer to these addicts as 'The Walking Dead'.

Mel Mac Giobuin, director of the North Inner City Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce, said there are over 100 "highly visible" chaotic drug users.

"There is a very active drugs market operating in the city centre," he warned.

The taskforce chief said the use of heroin "is on the rise again in Dublin" and this can cause addicts to appear extremely drowsy.

A drug addict is arrested trying to steal a bicycle.
A drug addict is arrested trying to steal a bicycle.

But while heroin usage has been widely known in Dublin for decades, what are the other common drugs which are being used and produce the doped-up 'Walking Dead' causing fear in the city centre?

BENZOS

Benzodiazepines, commonly known as 'benzos', are produced in tablet form and prescribed as sedatives.

These tablets are being sold illegally for as little as €2 each and addicts are consuming up to "12 to 15 of these" throughout each day, Mel Mac Giobuin said.

Benzos are mostly used to help addicts to "come back down" from intense highs which they get after taking drugs such as skunk - a powerful cannabis drug.

Benzo tablets are being crushed by users and mixed with liquid - or often with heroin - and injected.

FENTANYL

Drug users are being sold fentanyl as a substitute for heroin, but this form of the drug - which has been implicated in the death of pop legend Prince - can be hundreds of times more potent.

Fentanyl is an opiate and is sold on the streets under various guises, but is most commonly associated with heroin.

Users claim it gives them a rush and then an after-glow which wears off with harsh after effects.

Sold illegally in tablet or powder form, it costs around €50 per dose on the streets.

ALPHA PVP

This is a stimulant from the amphetamine group and is sold in powder form, mixed with water and injected.

It causes hallucinations which can make people completely oblivious to their surroundings.

Users can be observed involved in "chicken picking" behaviour, acting very strangely in public places.

It costs €10 to €20 per bag.

SNOW BLOW

Snow Blow is an amphetamine stimulant that gives a massive, long-lasting high.

Users often take further doses throughout the night when partying.

It is sold in sachets or bags in powder form and can be snorted or mixed with liquid and injected.

It costs €10 to €15 per sachet but has been known for very negative after-effects.

GBH

Gamma Hydroxybutyrate, or GBH for short, causes extreme drowsiness among users.

Addicts use it as a relaxant, but it is extremely dangerous.

It has been used as a "date rape" drug in liquid form when secretly added to drinks of unsuspecting victims.

MEPHADRONE

This stimulant is sold in tablet or powder form and costs from €10 to €15 per portion, which can consist of one or two tablets.

CRACK COCAINE

This lethal drug is sold as a upper or stimulant in 'rock' or 'lump' shapes of compressed granules.

It is smoked or injected and is very addictive. It costs around €50 per dose.

CRYSTAL METH

Also known as Ice, this drug can give a high that lasts for days preventing the user from sleeping.

The drug featured prominently on the hit TV series Breaking Bad.

Users can behave frenetically and it wears down their metabolism with a very adverse effect on health.

It is sold in crystal form and is heated and injected. It costs around €30 per bag.

Little is know about the lasting effects of these street drugs.

Mr Mac Giobuin said the harmful affects of heroin and cocaine have been researched for 70 years.

But the long-term harm of a wide number of these new drugs being abused have not been thoroughly researched and pose significant danger.

He said state spending on tackling the drug problem was cut back significantly following the economic collapse.

Compared to some years ago, services addressing drug abuse are receiving "30pc less funding".

Valuable youth services which reach out to vulnerable young people are getting "40pc less funding".

He said all services were "drastically reduced" which has caused a shortage of social workers and community workers.

Cuts

"The HSE has lost a lot of outreach staff due to cuts," he said. "There's a high concentration of drug activity in densely populated areas."

Mr Mac Giobuin said drug addiction has remained a serious problem and much more residential treatment beds must be made available.

The North Inner City Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce taskforce runs initiatives supporting users and families.

It was "heartening" when people are helped to reclaim their lives through residential drug addiction programmes.

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