Here comes another summer of dodging the hollow-eyed walking dead
NEW stats on the numbers treated for illegal drug use make for shocking reading. They show an alarming increase of over 25pc in people treated for addiction between 2009 and 2013.
More worrying is the doubling in numbers treated in Dublin for abusing benzodiazepines - or 'benzos'.
The figures, from the Health Research Board, show how drug gangs, always the first to see a lucrative market, have moved away from dealing in heroin and cocaine to instead supply benzodiazepines and so-called 'z' drugs, which are, effectively, sedatives.
The figures show that benzodiazepines were involved in 123 overdose deaths, almost 35pc of all drug deaths, in 2012. There is no doubt that the misuse of prescription drugs like these are now a cause of major concern and a problem that needs to be tackled.
Government proposals introduced in 2013 to combat and regulate the sale and possession of these drugs are clearly still not being enacted. This deteriorating situation now calls for the appointment of a dedicated junior Drugs Minster.
But away from stats and politics the real anti-social effects of Dublin's benzo scourge are about to become very apparent.
With fine weather on the way, Dublin's residents, workers and tourists face yet another summer of dodging hoards of hollow-eyed, near comatose, walking dead on city streets.
Such ghouls, stoned on these medications, stalk the boardwalks on the Liffey and the streets of the city centre.
It's a menace and it needs to be combated. Are we in for another summer of open drug dealing on city streets?