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‘Benzo’ culture means all drug strategies need to be quick to adapt – Hayes

A rapidly changing landscape of drug abuse in Dublin is being mirrored in cities around Europe, Brian Hayes MEP said today. He was speaking at “Addressing new drug threats”, a conference in the offices of the European Parliament in Dublin city centre.

“The need to retool drug strategies and actions to address changing needs is not unique to Ireland and can be seen at an EU level, within other EU countries and internationally,” he said.

“Most European countries still face the need to provide effective and sufficient services to address heroin use and related injecting drug problems. However, in recent years, chronic poly-drug using problems have become more apparent, with stimulants, medicinal products, cannabis and synthetic opioids all now contributing to a more complex drug problem.

“In Dublin’s inner city, there is a growing problem of benzodiazepines (‘benzos’) use, particularly among young people, along with a growing illicit trade in prescription drugs.

“At European level, the need to formulate a more robust response to these new psychoactive substances has been a central issue in recent policy discussions. Developments in information technology and changes in the way young people communicate have implications for any strategy, as well as social changes, such as homelessness and migration.

“The EU approach to drug policy favours a longer term strategy document, while shorter sequential action plans are used to adapt to new problems – this model ensures solutions are relevant and momentum is maintained. Ireland is recognised as a prominent country in recognising the problems, but Ireland, along with other European countries needs to retool drug strategies and actions to address changing needs.

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